Hose vacuum system removes heavy oil in Cape Breton

About 30,000 litres of a heavy oil was recently removed from a decades-old shipwreck off the coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Keith Laidlaw, incident commander for the Canadian Coast Guard, said a crew of divers removed bunker C, found aboard the Arrow tanker, which ran aground on Cerberus Rock near Arichat in February 1970. The vessel now rests in two pieces about 20 metres below the surface.

Under the direction of the coast guard, a team of contracted divers from RMI Marine Ltd. removed the oil using a vacuuming system, which involved using a modified nozzle at the end of a vacuum hose to suck the oil off the tops of the tanks.

The Arrow clean-up was organized after a slick was spotted during a routine surveillance flight on Aug. 28. In an initial survey, divers believed about 20,000 litres of oil was on board. The hose vacuum operation took about a month to complete, with 20 days lost to bad weather.

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