A ship abandoned in the St. Lawrence River southwest of Montreal has begun tilting to one side, causing the mayor of a nearby community to worry it will soon capsize and contaminate the water.

The 50-year-old Kathryn Spirit, once used to transport wheat, has been sitting in water near Beauharnois, Que., for five years.

Mayor Claude Haineault worries grease, fuel and other contaminants could end up in the water if the ship tips over. The city draws its drinking water from the river and there are wildlife protection areas nearby.

The Kathryn Spirit was supposed to be dismantled for scrap metal, but plans fell through. It was bought by a Mexican firm, but then the firm went bankrupt.

The vessel then became a federal responsibility. Transport Canada developed a plan to build an eight-metre-high dike before dismantling the ship.

But NDP MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach has argued that the Kathryn Spirit should be towed to a dry dock instead, to reduce the environmental risk.

Quebec’s Environment Minister recently said he wants to see another environmental assessment.

In the meantime, the Coast Guard has put an icebreaker on standby in case it capsizes, and installed temporary oil containment booms.

Haineault says the governments have all the information they need to simply get to work."

“Time is up,” he said. “Do the job.

With a report from CTV Quebec Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin and files from The Canadian Press