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Former Tamil migrant ship being dismantled in B.C.

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An abandoned cargo ship that once brought 76 Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka to British Columbia more than a decade ago is being dismantled.

The former MV Ocean Lady was recently at anchor in Desolation Sound, a waterway between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, following its perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean in 2009.

Coast guard officials say the 56-metre vessel, which was later renamed the MV Mini Fusion, is being deconstructed by the Marine Recycling Corporation, which won a federal contract to dismantle the ship.

The value of the disposal contract was approximately $1,002,104.88, according to a tender award notice published by Public Services and Procurement Canada in May.

The coast guard provided photos to CTV News on Tuesday showing the vessel's large steel hull in pieces at a marine salvage yard near Campbell River, B.C.

The coast guard says it removed more than 32,000 litres of fuel and oil from the vessel while at anchor last year. Even so, the abandoned cargo ship was deemed a navigational hazard and a threat to the sensitive marine environment.

The shipbreaking contract requires that the work is carried out in an environmentally compliant manner, including the salvage and recycling of scrap metal and controlled disposal of hazardous waste, according to the coast guard.

The vessel was placed on a submersible drydock last month and floated to Duncan Bay, near Campbell River, for destruction.

The former MV Ocean Lady was recently at anchor in Desolation Sound, a waterway between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland. (Canadian Coast Guard)

Built in Japan in 1990, the cargo ship was the first of two vessels carrying Tamil asylum seekers to reach B.C.'s coastal waters more than a decade ago. Its arrival was followed 10 months later by the arrival of the MV Sun Sea, which carried 492 migrants fleeing war in Sri Lanka.

A Victoria company won a $4.15-million contract to dispose of the Sun Sea in 2019.

The federal government says that since 2016 it has funded the removal and disposal of nearly 500 derelict vessels under the $3.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan.

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