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Rusting ship a toxic stew

The MV Sun Sea carried nearly 500 Tamil migrants to Canada eight years ago, but now the rusting cargo ship sits forlornly on the B.C. coast — an unwanted vessel of toxins including asbestos, PCBs and mould, documents reveal.

The federal government, which has been stuck with the rickety ship for years, is looking for an "environmentally sound" and cost-effective way of getting rid of it.

The Public Services and Procurement Department recently issued a request for feedback from industry on how to dismantle and dispose of the 38-year-old steel ship with an infamous past.

Organizers of the MV Sun Sea's 2010 voyage from strife-torn Sri Lanka promised passage in return for $20,000 to $30,000 per person.

Federal authorities intercepted the vessel, which has been moored at a Public Services facility in Delta since 2012. No owner of the ship could be identified, and no one wanted to buy it.

The vessel, under control of the Canada Border Services Agency, has cost the government approximately $970,000 in storage and maintenance costs.

The border agency and other federal partners "are working diligently" to figure out how to dispose of the ship, says a March 2018 briefing note obtained through the Access to Information Act.

The request for industry feedback is the first step toward unloading the 52-metre floating lemon. The solicitation documents say the government hopes to ask for bids from disposal companies in August and award a contract the following month, with a project completion date of March.

"The government of Canada has made the determination that the MV Sun Sea must be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner, in a Canadian facility, in accordance with Canadian law," says an initial outline of the work prepared by the border agency.

A January 2016 examination revealed several hazardous materials on board the MV Sun Sea, including mold throughout the vessel, asbestos, lead-laden paint, PCBs in paint and cabling coating, mercury in gauges and fluorescent lamps, and radioactive substances in smoke detectors and navigation equipment.



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