Monday, 23 June 2014

Committee Screens Awareness Video to MHA, MP and CCG Reps.

On June 22 the Manolis L Citizen's Response Committee met in Twillingate.  In many ways this was the culmination of all of the committee's work since it had been formed in response to the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's decision to make a temporary solution to the situation with the sunken, leaking cargo ship, the permanent one.  We, the committee, make having the oil removed from this vessel our only goal.

It was a very positive meeting with representatives from each level of government--mayor of Twillingate Gordon Noseworthy, MP Scott Simms and MHA Derrick Dalley present as well as two representatives from the Canadian Coastguard on hand to present their updates on the situation as well as advise us as to operations beginning in the area this week.

It was also an opportunity for the committee to present their awareness video created in part from the ROV videos taken by the underwater vehicle during operations in the past year.

There were many hours of video but we have coordinated the pertinent and important moments of the video with reports in the media from the representatives of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  (Please note that MLCRC did not ever manipulate the video in any way other than clipping appropriate sections and revealing portions where necessary to highlight our point and speeding up one section to fit in the timeframe)

In addition to providing a visual of what the shipwreck looks like instead of being dependent upon the interpretation of government, the video raises many questions about what we're seeing versus what we have been told.

The committee has found that the visual of what is actually happening down there contrasts in many ways with the communication given by officials.  Reports that call big globs of black crude "droplets" have the effect of minimizing the situation for example.

Also--and this is more troubling--a direct quote from a spokesperson in a report based on the October 17 ROV survey that indicates that all is working properly with the cofferdam and neoprene seal while the actual video referred to shows oil leaking (view at approx. minute 4:25)

For the public this raises concerns as to the credibility of what is reported versus what is actually happening.

It also increases the credibility of the reports by locals at that time who were reporting oil but no action being taken.

What is of huge concern is the neglect in the plan that was set in place back in 2013. When the first cofferdam was placed it was supposed to be emptied of its contents that fall during optimal weather conditions. The survey by the ROV showed oil leaking but the oil was never removed.  The shifting of that cofferdam later caused the subsequent pollution from July to the spill on  December 21 and beyond.   This resulted in a more dangerous reactive operation on January 18 when the new version of the cofferdam was placed.

Discussion at the meeting also brought forward the fact that never, in Canadian history, has oil or other pollutants been removed from a sunken ship. There is the idea that crude goes solid at certain temperatures which deems it unnecessary.  This video completely debunks that theory.(While the Zalinski Operation in BC was performed by the Canadian government it is an American Ship and the intent is to be reimbursed by the US Federal Government for costs incurred.)

(Note:  while the video shows this black crude coming out and  going through to the surface, keep in mind that these operations usually occur at optimal weather conditions. During extreme tides or storms, up may not be the direct route the oil takes but rather it follows the tides of the area. The direction shown may not be up and temperatures vary the viscosity of the crude as well. We also can't verify there aren't leaks in other areas of the hull not shown.  A complete survey of the hull has never been done)

The common sense approach to this situation is to remove the oil. With operations starting just a year ago we're already at $700,000 in cost and this will rise as the operations continue. When the hull bursts open the cost will be astronomical.

There is an opportunity that starts here. This is a chance for the Federal government to implement a national policy on ship source oil pollution that involves removing oil from this sunken vessel and mapping other vessels that may pose a threat similar to the work the USA has done in this area. Then when new ships sink the policy would require that owners of these vessels assume responsibility for the cost of permanently removing pollutants so that the government--and the taxpayer--are not responsible.

Notre Dame Bay and Newfoundland cannot wait for such a policy. The seas are merciless and the hull is compromised. The oil is coming out and will continue to.  A cofferdam is catching it not patching it. There are 600,000 liters ready to spill.

Monitoring isn't action.  Monitoring is inaction with eyes.

Meanwhile the video also highlights what the inaction does.  When the oil was not pumped from the original cofferdam as intended, it moved, and the devastation of that small spill is evident.  I direct you to listen carefully to minute 9:24.  Hear the voice of a real victim of our government's missed opportunity to create a real environmental policy, one that starts here with the cleanup of the Manolis L and carries with it the potential to affect real and permanent change nationwide in how we approach these events.

Please watch this video and share it. Awareness is the key to getting the oil removed.

Manolis L Citizens Response Committee

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