SYDNEY — The Department of Labour issued a stop-work order Friday on Bennington Group, the New York-based salvage company looking to dismantle a shipwrecked bulk carrier on Scatarie Island.
The company was tasked by the province to cut the MV Miner into scrap and then sell it for a profit on international markets.
But Bennington Group has pointed to a myriad of delays from bureaucratic red tape as the reason for not starting the work when it originally intended to in mid-July.
The MV Miner was being towed to Turkey by a Greek-owned tug when its tow line broke, setting the vessel adrift in the North Atlantic. It ran aground Sept. 20, 2011, and the Bennington Group entered into a joint venture with the MV Miner’s owner Arivina Navigation SA of Turkey to remove the wreck.
The stop-work order requires Bennington Group to hire an independent engineer to complete an assessment on the structural integrity of the vessel before work can begin to dismantle the ship.
The province says work is suspended on Scatarie Island until the company meets these occupational health and safety requirements.
“Employers have a responsibility to take sufficient safeguards to keep workers from harm. We will allow the dismantling to begin only when we’re absolutely certain the site is safe,” Labour Minister Marilyn More said in a release.
“We have been working with the company since the beginning to make sure they are aware of our occupational health and safety requirements and the need to comply.”
The Environment and Natural Resources departments have advised Bennington Group that they will suspend its authority to remove the MV Miner from Scatarie Island if requirements aren’t met.
There are strict conditions in place for the provincially designated protected and wildlife management area, More said.
Bennington’s latest provincial permit calls for work to be completed by Dec. 1, according to Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker.
A community group near the wreck site has been asking the province to help create alternative arrangements in case Bennington Group cannot remove the derelict bulk carrier.
The Main-a-Dieu and Area Community Development Association wants to meet with the province and Bennington Group to discuss options. It also wants the federal government to become more involved in the salvage operation.
Abe Shah, chief operating officer of Bennington Group, couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.