ALBERTA – Just days after Syncrude paid a $3-million fine stemming from the deaths of waterfowl in its tailings ponds in 2008, more birds landed in the ponds, again with disastrous results. Bad weather including freezing rain in the evening of Oct. 25, 2010, is believed to have played a large part in the problem. The birds landed despite deterrent systems in use. Waterfowl landed on other Syncrude sites including roads and parking lots as well as the Mildred Lake and Aurora settling basins.
Syncrude’s waterfowl deterrent system was in full operation at the time. In addition, extra air cannons, flare guns and air horns were used at the Mildred Lake settling basin in an attempt to scare the birds away from the area, but with no response said the company. Some of the birds have been euthanized due to contact with bitumen floating on the surface.
“We are co-operating fully with regulators and are working to minimize waterfowl losses,” said Scott Sullivan, Syncrude president and CEO. “This is very unfortunate, especially given the significant efforts we have taken to improve our deterrent system.” (www.Syncrude.com)
Waterfowl was also forced to the ground at the Suncor site. Again, the deterrent systems were fully operational and the company had deployed extra people with air horns to all ponds at the site. Here, too, a few birds were euthanized at the direction of the Alberta government personnel. (www.Suncor.com)