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The Mingan wharf temporary structure

The Mingan wharf temporary structure

Groupe Océans

During the night of September 18 to 19, 2009, a major fire destroyed the Mingan wharf, about 180 km east of Sept-Îles, caused considerable damage to the facilities and seriously damaged five of the eight fishing vessels moored there.

Two Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) employees, based in Sept-Îles, arrived at the scene on September 19 in the afternoon to establish safety measures and assess the damage caused to the environment. Posters and barricades were put up and a guard hired to ensure the safety of the premises.

Just a few days later, a vast operation was underway to recover the debris – a most delicate operation since the burned wharf was located near a national park. In addition, the debris floating on the water had spread over a broad area and threatened to drift even farther. A multidisciplinary team composed of employees from DFO’s Sept-Îles office, the Canadian Coast Guard and Parks Canada contributed to the success of the operation.

Because the wharf was declared a total loss, the Department undertook to demolish the remains of the infrastructure a little later in the fall and managed the debris in keeping with the environmental legislation in force.

At the same time, the Small Craft Harbours Branch (SCH) team met with the local harbour authorities to seek solutions that would allow the fisher harvesters who usually use the facilities at Mingan to have temporary infrastructure available to them when the fishing season opened the following spring. The solution they came up with: a temporary floating structure.

Not only did the SCH engineering team manage the security, cleaning and demolition operations, they also contributed their expertise when the time came to build the floating replacement wharf. 

Construction of the temporary infrastructure, and preparation of the related wharf-side services, began in January and by mid-March on-site deployment was underway.  In the first week of April, everything was operational, including support infrastructure like electricity and lighting – just in time for the opening of the fishing season.

Given the scope of this disaster and the limited reaction time, the entire DFO team reacted effectively and professionally and showed great creativity to overcome this unexpected challenge.

Lyne Beaumont
Small Craft Harbours