The Canadian Coast Guard will begin a pollution threat assessment on a notorious derelict vessel that sits opposite a public park in Bridgewater, N.S., but the Conservative candidate for the area in the upcoming federal election calls the announcement by the governing Liberals an election ploy.
Bernadette Jordan, the MP for the area and Nova Scotia’s only cabinet minister, made the announcement Monday and said it’s the first step in getting rid of the Cormorant, a former navy ship now sitting in the LaHave River.
“This is something that is extremely important to this community and something that I’ve been working on for a very long time,” Jordan told reporters at an event staged in a park across the river from the Cormorant.
The pollution threat assessment has no budget or timetable.
The assessment is needed to unlock money from a federal ship pollution fund, but the assessment itself does not guarantee funding.
In 2015, it sank and diesel spilled into the river. It was later refloated.
Already assessed as pollution-free
After the cleanup, the coast guard carried out an assessment that stated the ship was pollution-free.
Dave Yard, superintendent of environmental response in the Atlantic region for the Canadian Coast Guard, said the next assessment will begin in a few weeks.
“We want to go in and have another look and confirm through the technical assessment again if there’s any pollutants remaining on board and what the condition the hole is and what risks that vessel poses to environmental risk,” he said.
Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell said after years of inaction, the threat assessment is welcome.
“What happened today is literally the first step to beginning the process to getting the ship removed and as I understand it, they can’t even go any further until the assessment is done,” he said.
“We’ve never had any step taken and so the first step is you have to start with something. We’re thrilled that something is being done.”
Rick Perkins, the Conservative candidate who will be squaring off against Jordan in the upcoming federal election, called today’s announcement an election ploy. He showed up shortly after the event and was accompanied by Calgary MP Michelle Rempel.
“Bernadette Jordan in 2015 ran on a campaign to rid the harbour of these vessels and four years later they’re still here,” he said. “And three months before an election date, all of a sudden now she’s remembered that she made that promise and is trying to start another process again.”