Quebec mayor worries abandoned ship could leak oil into St. Lawrence

The mayor of Beauharnois, Que. says he is worried that an abandoned bulk carrier anchored in Lake Saint-Louis could sink, and eventually leak toxic materials into Montreal's drinking-water supply.

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The 150-metre-long Kathryn Spirit has sat on the shores of Beauharnois, a city in the Greater Montreal Area, for the last four years, waiting to be demolished.

However, a year after the cargo ship was towed to the city, the plans were put on hold because of concerns about the potential environmental pollution.

But problems with the nearly half-a-century-old vessel have only grown worse.

The Mexico-based owners of the Kathryn Spirit have declared bankruptcy and stopped paying the company hired to keep it afloat, and they have since abandoned the site.

With no one ensuring the integrity of the ship, Claude Haineault, the mayor of Beauharnois, told CTV Montreal on Tuesday that it could begin to list, as it did last year, and sink.

Haineault said this could lead to toxic materials such as rust, oil and grease leaking into Lake Saint-Louis, which is connected to the St. Lawrence River and provides drinking water to Montreal.

For years, the city has tried to urge other authorities to take action.

Haineault said in French that the city has been turned away by Transport Canada, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

And the province has no jurisdiction over the ship.

Beauharnois has since asked for a meeting with Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Haineault said that if Ottawa had acted earlier, it might have been able to work with the ship's Mexican owners. But he said that ship has sailed now that they've declared bankruptcy.

With a report from CTV Montreal's Derek Colon



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