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Improve knowledge related to hydrocarbons in the St. Lawrence System

The St. Lawrence river system is a busy seaway where petroleum hydrocarbons transit in significant quantities. In order to better manage the environmental risks associated with the marine transportation of hydrocarbons on the St. Lawrence, increased knowledge of maritime incidents, their possible impacts on aquatic ecosystems, and the best practices to be adopted is necessary to prevent and mitigate these impacts.

Projects 2016-2021

Collaborate to mitigate the risks related to marine transportation of hydrocarbons on the St. Lawrence

The St. Lawrence is a major transportation route for Canada and Quebec. The risk of accidents is therefore significant. In addition, the transportation of hydrocarbons could increase in the future.

As part of this project, the exchange group on ecological risk management related to marine transportation of hydrocarbons on the St. Lawrence brings together spill management experts and conservationists. The exchange group promotes knowledge sharing and bridges gaps by adding new level of expertise. It also helps to coordinate the actions of responsible agencies. More specifically, it gathers information on the St. Lawrence ecosystems in order to better understand the risks related to marine transportation and the transportation of hydrocarbons. Knowledge is shared with different agencies in order to improve the ecological risk management related to these activities.

Study the effects of oils and dispersants on freshwater aquatic organisms of the St. Lawrence

One of the possible interventions in case of oil spills is the use of chemical dispersants, which facilitate the creation of fine oil droplets that are dispersed in the water. However, few studies have assessed the effects of the chemical dispersants in cold waters. As each dispersant has a different chemical composition, the modes of action and toxicity are very variable. Furthermore, the dispersant-oil mix can be more toxic for the aquatic organisms than the oil alone.

The researchers in this project study the way oils and dispersants react in a laboratory in cold water conditions, which are representative of the St. Lawrence ecosystems. Among other things, they determine the sensitivity of several species living in cold water, which is representative of aquatic freshwater environments in Quebec, to these substances.

Support maritime incident management leads in case of oil spills in the St. Lawrence

Oil spills can have significant and harmful consequences for municipalities from a health and public safety perspective in addition to an economics perspective, by affecting, for example, drinking water intakes. It is thus essential that the stakeholders collaborate more effectively in such emergency situations. Under the SLAP project, our experts gather information from various sources and develop tools to guide those responsible in case of a maritime incident. From this, a collaborative framework was developped and distributed along with a majority of stakeholders involved in emergency management measures  in response to potential marine incidents.