Many different people are involved in the berth repair. The Port of Montreal entrusted the work to Construction Sorel. This general contractor hires divers from SPG Hydro International to perform the underwater work.
Another diving firm, Divex Marine, will then verify that the work has been carried out properly. “We do a lot of supervisory work at the Port of Montreal,” said Michel Birs, president of Divex Marine. “We also help survey the riverbed in port waters to ensure that there are no objects on the bottom of the river that could interfere with a ship.”
Génipur supervised all of the work that went into repairing the berth. Shown in the photo are Marc-André Lortie, civil engineering technician at Génipur and site supervisor for the entire repair project at this section of the berth, and Marc-André Brière, superintendent, and William Théroux, project manager, at Construction Sorel.
In addition to performing maintenance and repairs at the Port of Montreal, divers also inspect underwater facilities.
As the underwater work progresses, everyone gathers around a white table in the mobile office where the next steps are planned.
Maxime Riopel builds a caisson, a watertight chamber used in construction that will be needed to hold the concrete that will be poured into the underwater section of the berth. Here, he is cutting metal. “What I like about my job is that we’re like a one-man band, where we get to do everything: soldering, cutting, carpentry, concrete, casing and steel work,” Maxime says. He learned the basics of these jobs at the Institut maritime du Québec. He perfected his skills on the job with his colleagues.
That’s it! The pouring of the concrete is complete. The entire procedure took about 30 minutes. Previously, the unstable portions of concrete would have been demolished and removed. Measurements would have been taken, heavy metal rods cuts and a new formwork installed. The diver can now get out of the water. The cage is lowered and he gets in. He’s ready to surface!
And here is our hero of the day!
He has no time, however, to get undressed or even remove his helmet. Jonathan moves a few dozen feet down the length of the berth and gets ready to pour concrete at the next section. He returns to the cage for a second dive. This afternoon, Sébastien will wear the diving suit. With this heat, the others are envious. The temperature inside the diving suit is always a comfortable 22 degrees, summer or winter. The hardest part about working in the winter is that the tools freeze!
There are some risks associated with diving, and they must be well managed. In the river, the most difficult element to control is the current. If it’s too strong, work pretty much needs to be halted. Also, visibility can be poor when the water is rough.
Divers are called upon to work in places other than ports. They are trained to work in contaminated waters, such as in water treatment plants, to repair ventilation pipes, for example. After this type of work, a diver must enter two or three decontamination tanks in order to get rid of any pathogen.
On the other hand, divers are sometimes called upon to work in drinking water tanks. In order to not contaminate the water, they wear vulcanized suits and sterilized stainless steel helmets used only for diving in this kind for water.
The diving course requires special training and is longer than a simple diving course. The “Professional Diving” course offered by the Institut maritime du Québec, in Rimouski, lasts one year. Upon completion of the course, students obtain their certification from the Commission de la construction du Québec. Moreover, by showing proof that they have fulfilled the requirements of the Diver Certification Board of Canada, they obtain the DCBC card that is recognized internationally and allows them to work abroad.
Although divers require a certain amount of physical strength to perform certain tasks, such as installing formwork, in addition to carrying all of that equipment on their backs, there are some women divers.
To become a good diver, you must be hard working and humble, according to Sébastien Dufresne. “You cannot take all of the credit for yourself. Someone who does that will be cast aside quickly. It is first and foremost a team effort,” he says.
The course can also lead to jobs in scientific and aquaculture research, salvage operations and the recovery of various objects.
Another important fact: the placement rate is 100 percent!