March 11, 2014 4:21 pm
Updated: March 11, 2014 9:15 pm

Abandon ship: owner of leaking wreck claims bankruptcy

The MS Lord Selkirk lists in a Selkirk slough in July 2010. The ship caught fire in 2012 but remains in the water in Selkirk Park.

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WINNIPEG – The owner of a ship left abandoned and leaking pollutants in Selkirk claims to be bankrupt, a city official says.

Jim Fenske, the acting Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Selkirk, told Global News Tuesday that the city’s lawyers are working to confirm the claim by New York City based United Source International that the company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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If the company is indeed bankrupt, the rusting MS Lord Selkirk II could become the responsibility of the federal Receiver of Wrecks to dispose of. According to Transport Canada’s website the Receiver of Wrecks  “acts as the custodian of a wreck in the absence of the rightful owner.”

A telephone number listed for United Source International was not in service. Fenske says the city has been in email contact with the officers of the company. The company engaged an Ontario-based scrap firm to dismantle the ship in 2012 but the work was never done.

The derelict former cruise ship was left in a slough near Selkirk almost 25 years ago and is leaching a long list of contaminants into the water.

Selkirk city council voted Monday night to direct city staff to supply the federal and provincial governments with the new information, and to hire a company to draw up a plan for getting rid of the pollutants. Pinchin Environmental will be paid $8000 to draw up the plan and come up with a clean up costs. A source tells Global News the cost could be in the millions of dollars.
“It’s a major problem, it’s not a small craft,” Fenske says. “But there’s a lot of metal there, and if you rid of the pollutants you could probably get someone to dismantle it for nothing.”
Fenske says the city has ruled out pursuing the ship’s owners in US courts due to the cost, and unlikelihood any significant damages would be paid.
The ship was built in Selkirk in 1969 and is 176 feet long.
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