Sorel-Tracy | Build, but also deconstruct boats

Shipbuilding is part of the history of Sorel-Tracy. But within a few years, the deconstruction of ships could also mark the landscape. The municipality, the Center for Technology Transfer in Industrial Ecology (CTTEI) and many players in the region wish to develop this expertise. Update with Claude Maheux-Picard, general director of the CTTEI.

Why does the region want to specialize in naval deconstruction?

Geographically speaking, the region is very well positioned: it is at the confluence of the Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River. To transport equipment or (de)construct ships, it’s very interesting. In addition, a port is being built at Contrecœur. We have several spaces in industrial parks. And the CTTEI brings expertise in the circular economy.

What is the potential of this industry?

The data is being collected and confirmed, but we know that there is a great demand. There could be 5,000 ships waiting to be dismantled in Canada.


Claude Maheux-Picard, general director of the Center for Technology Transfer in Industrial Ecology

How can we deconstruct boats without harming the environment?

ArcelorMittal will be able to recycle steel from ships. The CTTEI specializes in sustainable practices, circular economy and recycling. The CEGEP has specialists in industrial hygiene and safety. We have a great panel of experts to carry out dismantling with practices worthy of 2025. Not like it is done in certain countries which have questionable practices which endanger the health of workers.

What will you do with materials other than steel?

As boats were designed decades ago, we will certainly find materials that we are no longer allowed to use today. The CTTEI will have to find the right outlets for these materials and ensure that they are managed adequately. We will want to confirm that they are sent to the right places and that it is done according to the rules of the art.

The objective is to maximize the reuse of certain components in new constructions, in the naval sector or not. We will constantly have to adjust according to the multitude of boats and components that we will find.

How polluting is it to dismantle boats?

Not so long ago, boats were not dismantled, but simply sunk to the bottom of the oceans. It could be very problematic. The dismantling of a ship is carried out in part while the ship is still on the water. We must therefore organize everything so as not to return contaminants to the environment, while having the safety of nature and personnel at heart. All this will have a cost. You will have to be competitive.

What will be the other potential benefits?

We are still in exploratory mode, but it is certain that it will create jobs and unique expertise in the region. This is why we want to see what is happening abroad, like in Denmark, where they are carrying out intelligent dismantling. We want to take inspiration from it to implement it in Quebec and give it our color.


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