The threatened white beluga whales of the St. Lawrence or
high-noise pipeline work?
Earlier this month we
blogged about Justice Claudine Roy's decision granting a
temporary injunction to environmental groups, blocking Energy East
Pipeline Ltd. and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. from conducting
exploratory work in the St. Lawrence River near Cacouna, QC until
October 15, when a critical beluga spawning period had passed. The
purpose of the project is to study a portion of the sea-bed under
the St. Lawrence River to determine where a marine terminal should
be built to allow the export of Alberta tar sands oil. The
temporary injunction expired on October 15, as scheduled, but the
energy companies are still blocked from proceeding, this time by Quebec's environment ministry.
The Montreal Gazette has reported the ministry as
stating that "The company cannot resume its work of seismic
tests in Cacouna as long as it hasn't submitted a proposal
judged to be acceptable by the ministry." Quebec's
environment ministry wants TransCanada to promise in writing to
lower the volume of their seismic tests, apparently because
TransCanada has disobeyed the government's rules for the
project by using too many boats and exceeding the 120-decibel noise
Hundreds of people protested the project in Cacouna on October
14, the day before the expiration of the court injunction.
Environmental groups flew a large, inflatable beluga near the
National Assembly and handed over to Quebec Premier, Phillips
Couillard, a copy of an online petition, signed by 32,000
individuals seeking to prohibit the project.
Quebec's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Pierre
Arcand, has been quoted as saying that the province has a year
to assess the pros and cons of the project. Liberal MNA Jean
d'Amour, for the riding of Riviere-du-Loup, where the project
is located, says that "TransCanada has a communication
challenge with the community. And it's non-negotiable that
TransCanada must comply with all requirements."
In the 1880s, there were as many as 10,000 belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf,
but today there are, at most, only 1,000 left.
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