After six years of waiting, listing ship in Lake St. Louis to be dismantled
Published Monday, December 11, 2017 12:59PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 11, 2017 6:13PM EST
An abandoned cargo ship that has been rusting away for six years in the waters of Lake St. Louis will finally be dismantled.
The Kathryn Spirit has been sitting on the shores of Beauharnois since 2011 when it was towed to the area to be dismantled. Instead, the vessel was sold to a firm in Mexico which then declared bankruptcy and abandoned the ship.
Plans to tear apart the ship were stalled repeatedly by environmental groups worried about the land and water in the area being contaminated, and two years ago officials warned the ship, which has been listing to one side for many years, was in danger of capsizing. The Coast Guard built an underwater concrete embankment around the Spirit to prevent it leaking hazardous material.
For now, it’s working, said Julie Gascon of the Coast Guard.
“We have all the mitigation measures to ensure the environment is protected. The embankment really provides that protection. We have booms, we have everything out there, plus a very strong monitoring approach,” she said.
While the ship was supposed to be removed by June, the berm proved to be no match for this spring's flooding, and the floods also interfered with construction of a dry dock.
In July the federal government issued a new call for tenders to tear the ship apart, with the Coast Guard saying that taking the ship apart is more complicated than it would appear.
“The vessel is quite rotten so doing any additional thing or trying to right it could further damage the vessel,” said Gascon.
"We have all the submissions. It’s a very complex project required an extreme amount of analysis to see how we're going to proceed. It is in a lake, it is very close to people, to the municipality. We had to do that very diligently and once we had done that review and once we were comfortable the contract was delivered," she added.
"We had people working every single day on that file."
Now, six years after it was first asked to dismantle the Kathryn Spirit, Groupe St-Pierre is going to tear the vessel to pieces.
The price tag of the entire operation, including building the embankment, now stands at more than $19 million.
Beauharnois Mayor Bruno Tremblay, who was inaugurated last month, said he is just happy to hear the ship may soon be gone
“We are at the end of that procedure and we will have a better way to see the lake now,” he said.
The Kathryn Spirit should be completely dismantled by September 2018, and the embankment will be taken apart the following year.