The long reach of marine pollution

13 01 2014
The Manolis L as it went under in 1985.

The Manolis L as it went under in 1985.

Back in May last year, I posted here about the Manolis L, a Liberian registered ship that sank off Newfoundland, Canada in 1985. Last year, the ship apparently began leaking oil from its current resting place under 250 feet of water around Fogo Island. Remote controlled submersible robots revealed a cracked hull. In July, the Canadian Coast Guard installed a collecting device called a cofferdam on one side of the ship, and a neoprene seal over another compromised area. At the end of December, however, locals began reporting obvious oil on the surface of the waters near the wreck, and hunters have been documenting oil on many of the eiders they’ve killed. The Coast Guard responded to this most recent increase in oil leakage by examining the wreck again. They found that the neoprene seal appears to be working, but that the cofferdam has shifted about fifteen feet off the site of the leak. They suggest that recent harsh weather and wave action likely dislodged the device allowing oil to escape. Engineers and oceanographers are currently evaluating potential solutions to this problem, but in the meantime, local residents have been trying to publicize the issue and place additional pressure on their government to address the issue more quickly. One of these citizen groups has formed a Facebook page to allow residents and interested outsiders to follow any developments in the case, and we encourage you to keep an eye on what’s happening with our neighbors to the north. SEANET was invited to follow their site over the weekend, and we certainly will, with interest. 

Photo: Newquay Beachcombing

Photo: Newquay Beachcombing

We also received a report this week from the other side of the Atlantic, where a beachcombers’ group has begun reporting small plastic discs on their beaches. These discs look suspiciously similar to the ones released from the Hooksett, NH sewage treatment plant back in March of 2011. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that the discs have bobbed their way across the ocean on the Gulf Stream and are now gracing our compatriots in the old country. This is another group we will be following to see where else these discs turn up, and all the other oddities and sad cases our UK friends find. 

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