SHEET HARBOUR – With one project almost complete and two more getting ready to start, Sheet Harbour may be on its way to becoming a centre of excellence for green marine reclamation and recycling.
R.J. MacIsaac Construction Ltd. (RJMI) of Antigonish is nearing the end of a two-year project at the port to decommission the Deep Panuke offshore gas platform and, according to the company’s risk manager Don Sinclair, the work has proceeded on schedule and without incident.
“We anticipate final completion of the project by mid-summer 2023,” he told The Journal last week. “This project has proceeded according to plan with no unexpected issues. We anticipate that 97 per cent of all materials recovered from the Deep Panuke structure will be recycled or reused.”
He added: “RJMI is a member of Green Marine, a leading environmental certification program for the North American maritime industry. As a member, RJMI voluntarily pledges to use environmental best practices relating to air, water and soil quality. As well, we have developed a company culture that is committed to positive community engagement.”
He said the company has two more projects in the hopper for the port — both of which will follow similarly stringent environment guidelines. “Once the Deep Panuke platform is done, the MV Holiday Island [ferry] will come up onto the pad. And, then, the Canadian Coast Guard research vessel, Hudson, will be next in the queue.”
RJMI won the federal government procurements to dismantle the fire-damaged Holiday Island, formerly operated by Northumberland Ferries Limited of PEI, and the aging Hudson late last year. In the announcements for both, the Coast Guard emphasized that the vessels would be heading for “environmentally-responsible” deconstruction and disposal.
According to Sinclair, “We see the opportunity here to really create a modern industry. Traditionally, ship recycling has not been done in a particularly safe or environmentally sound way. Our goal has been to conduct these operations according to the highest standards, [including] the Hong Kong convention on the safe and environmentally sound recycling of vessels and the European Union ship recycling regulation. We mean to meet or exceed all of those standards and conduct operations in a very safe manner with zero impact on the environment.”
With respect to the Deep Panuke platform dismantling — which began in 2021 — Sinclair said, “Over the next three to four weeks, we will topple the four spuds [the structure’s legs]. Following this, we will pull the remaining platform onto our processing concrete pad using roller bags. Once we have the platform on the processing pad we will complete the dismantling and recycling process.”
RJMI is also at work dismantling the MV Caruso, a former Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender, that’s been stranded at nearby Marie Joseph since 2011.
“We’ve completed the site preparation and commenced removing any pollution and contaminated water that we find inside the [Caruso] vessel,” Kyle Jarvis, the Coast Guard’s acting deputy superintendent of environmental response, told The Journal last month. The contractors [RJMI] have started taking apart pieces of the superstructure and creating access points into the vessel … Everything is progressing very well.”
Janice Christie, president of the Sheet Harbour Chamber of Commerce and Civic Affairs, applauded RJMI’s work and commitment to the community.
“It is gratifying to the Chamber and to the community to have welcomed R.J. MacIsaac to our port in Sheet Harbour,” she said. “The company has not only provided local employment opportunities with the obvious economic benefits to residents and businesses, but also they bring a reputable business to the Shore that is being recognized for the green dismantling of derelict ocean vessels.”
She added: “The Port of Sheet Harbour has much to offer and MacIsaac has proven, with some ingenuity, there are many options for any number of businesses to establish themselves here. The Shore is on an upswing of population influx and so much potential exists to bring in new skill sets and on the job training opportunities.”
Said Sinclair: “We support local business in Sheet Harbour and the Eastern Shore and the majority of our employees are from the local area.”