About 300 people protested today to denounce the construction of a port in Cacouna, near Rivière-du-Loup, for shipping oil from the Alberta tar sands.

Under the Energy East pipeline project, the TransCanada company has already obtained the approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conduct drilling in the marine area of Bas-Saint-Laurent. 

About a dozen organizations planned the event, including Nature Québec, Greenpeace and the Quebec Association Against Air Pollution.

They say they want both Ottawa and Quebec to further analyze the project before allowing TransCanada to go forward.

Dangerous surveys, say protesters

TransCanada is currently conducting seismic surveys in the Cacouna marine area to scan the seabed and identify where the port could be built. 

This work would be carried out in May as belugas — an endangered species — will be breeding in this area of ​​the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Protesters say that these geophysical surveys use devices that emit harmful sounds for belugas.

TransCanada spokesman Philippe Cannon said the company has all the right permits for the survey and have staff watching belugas by the side of the rivers, as well as low-flying observation planes.

"Today, for example, because of the weather the optimal conditions weren't there for us to look at the beluga whales to be able to observe them and to be able to make sure that they were not within a perimeter of 500 meters. That is required within our permit so that's why no work was done this morning," said Cannon.

This preparatory work should allow the company to clarify its application to the National Energy Board.

The federal agency is responsible for evaluating the Energy East pipeline, which will transport more than one million barrels of oil per day to New Brunswick through Quebec by 2018.

"People can make sure of one thing: that we have the beluga whales at heart," said Cannon.