Cape Breton residents who live near Scatarie Island say they're relieved a request for proposals has finally been issued to remove the MV Miner, but they're concerned about what's still on board the wreckage.
The Nova Scotia government is asking companies bidding for the work to submit proposals on how they plan to safely remove the 12,000-tonne ship, which has been stranded since it ran aground on Sept. 20, 2011.
The request for proposals said the vessel still has contaminants on board including about 6,000 kilograms of materials containing asbestos.
Amanda MacDougall, the vice-president of the Main-à-Dieu Community Association, said the information in the request for proposals proves what they've suspected all along.
"There is asbestos, lead, mercury, all kinds of different hazardous materials that are listed in the RFP as being still on the vessel," she told CBC News.
"Of course that is concerning."
Fishermen and other residents have been working for years to get the derelict 223-metre freighter removed from the shores of Scatarie Island, a protected wilderness area.
Geoff MacLellan, the provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, has called for federal funding to help with the removal of the MV Miner but Ottawa has refused to become involved, saying the wreckage is not an environmental hazard.
"The assumption was that a lot of these contaminants were cleaned up and of course, this ties into the federal perspective that it isn't an environmental hazard," MacLellan said.
"I think that could strengthen our argument for federal involvement."
In 2012, a New York-based salvage company promised to do the work, but accomplished nothing and eventually left.
MacLellan said the province's current request for proposals will make sure that doesn't happen again.
"There's a 10 per cent bid bond, first of all. There's detailed insurance requirements, what would be expected of subcontractors," he said.
"It's a very detailed, very specific RFP and I think that there isn't a lot of wiggle room in terms of what's understood to be required here."
The request for proposals will be open until April 23 and the government says the winning bid will be announced within four weeks of that date.