The third phase of a novel environmental initiative aimed at preserving the stunning natural beauty and rich biological diversity in and around the bay of Sept-Îles is now underway. “We have one of the most beautiful bays in all of North America,” says the Port’s Director of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Manon D’Auteuil.  “Phase 3 is the next step in our efforts to help keep it that way.”

Launched in 2013, the Observatoire de veille environnementale de la baie de Sept-Îles is a multi-phase project involving several partners, including Port of Sept-Îles, Ville de Sept-Îles and Institut nordique de recherche en environnement et en santé au travail – or INREST.

The first phase of the project, which was carried out over two months in 2013, focused on sample-taking to measure the quality of water and sediments in the bay, as well as its luminosity. The on-site work is carried out by the team of specialists of INREST, who works in collaboration with university-level research groups such as Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski,Université du Québec à Rimouski and Observatoire global du St-Laurent.

Phase 2 continued during September 2014, and ended with a 277-page report for phase 2 and a 230-page for phase 1, that can be accessed on the site (French only). Released in May 2016, the report lists a variety of commonly found metals in the sediments. However it concludes that more time and samples are needed “to conclude or comment on the state of the bay.”

Phase 3, which is now underway, will try to provide answers through the collection of additional water and sediment samples, and testing them. The project has also received new funding to the tune of $650,000 equally provided by three parties: Port of Sept-Îles/Ville de Sept-Îles, port users, and the Quebec government-backed Société du Plan Nord.

According to D’Auteuil, the project is unique in Canada for its proactive goal of finding and redressing potential environmental issues and challenges resulting from decades of heavy industrial activity and shipping in and around the bay of Sept-Îles. “We are a strategic hub in Plan Nord with large industrial facilities,” she says.  “This project is helping us understand the health of our bay’s ecosystem so that we can manage it going forward and keep it beautiful for future generations to enjoy.”