It’s been an eyesore of the shores of Beauharnois for years, but the Kathryn Spirit is finally gone.

The federal government announced Friday that work to dismantle the abandoned ship is now complete.

"Beauharnois will once again have a magnificent view on the St. Lawrence," said Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau at a news conference Friday.

Built in 1967, the 150-metre-long cargo ship has been moored since 2011, when Quebec company Groupe St-Pierre bought it in order to strip it for scrap.

Local residents appealed to Ottawa to stop the operation. While successful, the southwestern Quebec town was then left with the abandoned ship.

A Mexican company subsequently bought the ship and intended to bring it back to Mexico but the tugboat hired to tow it was impounded in Halifax and the company eventually went bankrupt.

The rusting vessel began to list, raising concerns about the environment hazards of the fuels, as well as asbestos, PCBs and other dangerous materials on board.

The Canadian Coast Guard was tasked with preventing the ship’s materials from leeching into the water.

Authorities said the "vast majority" of hazardous or flammable materials were removed in 2013.

The federal government announced last year that a joint venture between Groupe St-Pierre and Englobe Corp. would oversee the dismantling for just over $11 million.

Anne Minh Thu Quach, the NDP MNA for Salaberry-Suroit, said she takes issue with the very company that abandoned the ship getting part of the federal contract to dismantle it.

“They are responsible for that and they get paid, with public money, to do that and it’s their responsibility. They decided to bring that ship here,” she said of Groupe St-Pierre.


New legislation will hold ship owners to account: Garneau

The federal government is now set to pass legislation to ensure marine vessels that are left abandoned remain the responsibility of ship owners.

Garneau said there are about 100 boats and ships abandoned in waterways around Canada – though most are not as large as the Kathryn Spirit.

“Our government invested in a program called the Oceans Protection Plan. It’s a $1.5 billion plan. This is unprecedented and is focused on ensuring we protect our maritime waters, our coastal areas,” he said.

One of the elements of the plan, said Garneau, is a piece of legislation dealing with abandoned vessels.

“What it will do is put the responsibility on vessel owners,” said Garneau. “To make sure that Canadians fully understand that if you are the owner of a ship or a small craft, you are responsible for disposing of it and not simply abandoning it.”

- With files from The Canadian Press