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Tow of tanker grounded off Nova Scotia unsuccessful, operations suspended

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the tow of the Arca 1 was not successful because crews were unable to remove enough ballast water from the ship to increase the vessel's buoyancy before the high tide started to go down.
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The Arca 1 tanker remained grounded off the coast of Little Pond, Cape Breton, on Tuesday night. (TOM AYERS / Local Xpress)

SYDNEY — A salvage team was unable to pull a grounded tanker from a sandy bottom off Cape Breton on Tuesday evening.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the tow of the Arca 1 was not successful because crews were unable to remove enough ballast water from the ship to increase the vessel's buoyancy before the high tide started to go down.

The coast guard says the towing has been suspended until the tide and weather co-operate, but it will continue to monitor the vessel.

The Arca 1 ran aground just north of Sydney Mines on Sunday after losing engine power, and its six-member crew was rescued later that day. The vessel is carrying 15 tonnes of fuel for its engines.

The tanker was en route to Mexico carrying no cargo when it experienced mechanical difficulties. 

Olous Boag, the vice-president of McKeil Marine Ltd., said in an interview Tuesday morning that the salvage team had considered beginning during the early morning high tide, but decided to delay it as they completed assessments on how the tow would occur.

Boag has said his firm will use its salvage tug Tim McKeil along with a smaller tug, the Kaliutik, to attempt to tow the vessel to nearby Sydney harbour. 

The salvage team determined Monday night the vessel's flat bottom wasn't damaged.

"The good news is ... there's no breaches in the hull. Watertight integrity is good," said Boag.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who is responsible for the coast guard, said Monday that "appropriate preventive measures" would be used to prevent environmental damage, but officials clarified Tuesday that booms were not being used because they would interfere with tow operations.

Petroil Marine SA, the Mexican company that owns the ship, is responsible for the costs of removing the tanker.

Michael Tutton and Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press



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