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Tanks on Yarmouth's Bunker’s Island to come down

Tanks on Bunker’s Island to come down.
Tanks on Bunker’s Island to come down.

YARMOUTH - The landscape of Bunker’s Island on the hill overlooking Yarmouth Harbour will change considerably this summer.

Two giant rust-stained tanks owned by Irving Oil are being removed. The tanks, each with 4.3-million-litre capacity, have been there since 1967. Four others were removed years earlier.

Mark Sherman, executive vice president and chief operating officer says the tanks on the island will no longer be used because of the recent acquisition of the Valero bulk terminal on Prospect Street in Yarmouth.

The purchase is part of a plan to expand Irving Oil’s capabilities in Nova Scotia.

“When the Imperial Oil refinery closed a couple of years ago in Halifax we made a strategic decision to step in and make sure that we had supply security in that region,” said Sherman.

“We decided to reopen that Halifax side terminal that we had,” he said.

Last year the company invested $80 million to build a new dock and tank farm there. It opened to good response, says Sherman, because in 2015 there were gas shortages in Nova Scotia.

“That was all because there were storms elsewhere in the world and ships weren’t getting in, in time,” he said.

The Yarmouth terminal purchase of the Valero site is one of four purchased by Irving for supply security. The other three are in Bridgewater, New Glasgow and Port Hawkesbury.

Sherman says demand is down, generally, for heating oil but still profitable for Irving.

Tanks on Bunker’s Island to come down.

“So that’s what drove us to make the acquisition from Valero and hence we end up with these two properties in Yarmouth.

But there isn’t a need for both, he said.

A decision on the contractor has not been made yet but Sherman says it’s the company’s intent to use local firms as long as they have the capabilities.

The piping from the tanks down to the dock will be removed but the dock will remain.

In the end, just the earth will be visible where the tanks were but Irving will continue to work with the provincial government for 18 months to make sure the site is environmentally clean and that all tests are passed.

There are no plans for other development of the 32-acre property at this time.

“Our main priority is to get it cleaned up, looking good and we’ll see where it goes from there,” said Sherman.

Tanks on Bunker’s Island to come down.

“This site does not represent our typical properties, that’s why we’re anxious to get it down,” he said.

Bunker’s Island history

In addition to Irving oil’s holdings, Bunker’s Island is also home to Beacon Light (more commonly known as Bug Light).

The original lighthouse was built on a bigger base right into the light keeper's home. Bunker's Island also served as a defensive position during the War of 1812 and into the late 1800's.

The militia used guns for practicing on site. A marine hospital for contagious diseases where people were kept in quarantine also operated on the island. There are several gravestones on the land.

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