A cargo ship that made headlines more than nine years ago when it arrived on the shores of B.C. carrying nearly 500 Tamil migrants is making its final journey on Friday.
The dilapidated MV Sun Sea is being towed from a Public Services and Procurement Canada dock along the Fraser River in Delta, where it has been since 2012, to Nanaimo.
Victoria-based Canadian Maritime Engineering was awarded a contract worth more than $4 million in July to dismantle and dispose or recycle the near 40-year-old ship.
A January 2016 examination revealed several hazardous materials on board, 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.
The MV Sun Sea was intercepted off the coast of B.C. on August 12, 2010 after a three month journey from Thailand carrying 492 Tamil migrants including 62 women and 49 minors.
Organizers had promised passage in return for $20,000 to $30,000 per person.
The Sun Sea was escorted by HMCS Whitehorse and HMCS Winnipeg to CFB Esquimalt the next day.
No owner of the 52-metre ship could be identified, and no one wanted to buy it, so the Canadian government was stuck with it.
As of July 2018, the vessel, under control of the Canada Border Services Agency, has cost the government approximately $970,000 in storage and maintenance costs.
Due to the ship’s condition, the government would not allow it to be towed to a work site beyond the waters of southern B.C.
The contractor is permitted to salvage elements including the main engine, generator, pumps, steel, valves, pipes, hatches, portholes and furniture.
With files from CBC