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ENVIRONMENT: Creative uses for Syncrude’s $3-M fine

FORT McMURRAY - After pleading guilty to federal and provincial offences stemming from the April 2008 death of...



FORT McMURRAY – After pleading guilty to federal and provincial offences stemming from the April 2008 death of waterfowl in its tailings ponds, Syncrude has been hit with a $3-million fine by Environment Canada. As many as 1,000 birds may have been killed. 

Syncrude and Crown prosecutors have worked out what the company calls a “creative sentence”. Syncrude will contribute $1.3 million for a multi-year University of Alberta research project to study migratory bird populations and the effectiveness of deterrent technologies. The company will also make a payment of $900,000 towards a habitat conservation project in the Cooking Lake Moraine area and another of $250,000 for Keyano College to develop a wildlife management technical diploma program for Aboriginal students. 

Syncrude must also pay $300,000, the maximum fine allowed under the Migratory Birds Convention Act 1994, to the federal Environmental Damages Fund. The company will also pay the maximum fine, $500,000, under Alberta’s Environmental Protection Act. The contribution to Keyano College will come from the provincial fine.

“The public expects better from a leader in the oil sands, as do we,” said Syncrude president and CEO Scott Sullivan. “We sincerely regret what occurred and have made changes to our waterfowl protection system. This sentence reflects the seriousness of what occurred.” 

Changes to the company’s waterfowl protection program are outlined at www.Syncrude.ca.