06 August 2017

A promise come and gone: 'Kathryn Spirit' ship still awaiting removal in Beauharnois

To some, she’s a landmark – to others, the Kathryn Spirit remains an eyesore, and citizens of Beauharnois are calling on Ottawa to honour their promise to remove the corroded vessel from the waters of Lac Saint-Louis.

The ship has been stagnating on the shore of Beauharnois—30 km from Montreal—for six long years.

A promise made by Transport Minister Marc Garneau in the fall has come and gone—the ship was slated for removal by June of 2017, yet it remains in place, without any move by the federal government.

Officials in Ottawa have put out a call for tenders for the dismantlement of the vessel, but contracts aren’t expected to come in until the fall.

Following the bids come more meetings and work groups, and it’s estimated that the preliminary work will start at its earliest in the fall of 2018.

From there, it may take a year to completely dismantle the ship—its completion is slated for fall of 2019.

The Kathryn Spirit was built in 1967, and was previously owned by Swedish and Norwegian companies, used for bulk transport of commodities on the Great Lakes and the Saint-Lawrence seaway.

In 2011, the vessel was sold to Groupe St-Pierre for scrap. Facing opposition from the municipality about moving the ship, Groupe St-Pierre withdrew from their contract. In 2012, an American-owned, Bolivian-tagged tugboat was hired to pull the Kathryn Spirit to Mexico, but the boat was detained in Halifax for safety reasons and “poor living conditions.”

The crew was repatriated using charitable donations, and the ship remained moored—now tipping at a noticeable angle—on the shores of Beauharnois.

Plans to tear apart the Kathryn Spirit stalled when environmental groups said dismantling it would contaminate nearby land and water.

Many have feared that toxic material—including residual fuel and other contaminants onboard the ship—could leak into Lac Saint-Louis and contaminate Montreal’s supply of drinking water.
A protective dam was built around the ship last year, but the wall was no match for this spring's flooding. Those floods also interfered with the construction of a dry dock that began in January.

Mayor Claude Haineault is beyond frustrated.

“It’s unbelievable that the government authorized this ship to be transported there, said Haineault.

The ship was supposedly authorized to cross at the Ste. Catherine locks—not at the Beauharnois locks.

“It’s easy to understand that the ship will stay in Lac Saint-Louis—there’s no place in Lac Saint-Louis to receive this kind of wreck. How come the government authorized that?” he said.

Source: 01 August 2017

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