ALBERTA — Following the drowning of 1,600 birds in the Aurora settling basin last year, Syncrude has made changes to its waterfowl protection program in anticipation of this year’s migration season.
“The drowning of the waterfowl last April shouldn’t have happened and is unacceptable,” said Syncrude’s president and CEO Tom Katinas. “There is tremendous resolve in our organization to learn from this experience and help ensure it does not happen again.”
Syncrude’s internal investigation showed significant migration had begun even though local natural water bodies were still largely frozen, making the Aurora settling basin one of the few landing options for the waterfowl. In addition, Syncrude’s deployment of deterrents was hampered by an extremely severe late spring snowstorm the week before the incident.
Consequently, Syncrude has made changes to its waterfowl protection plan to deal with unexpected weather and migratory occurrences. Deterrents will now be deployed year-round on the settling basins in unfrozen areas. The system includes an enhanced monitoring system, pre-deployment of shore-based deterrents in advance of spring break-up, and an increase in the number of deterrents by at least 30%. This improved system is already in operation.
“Everyone at Syncrude understands that our stakeholders expect the very best from us when it comes to protection of wildlife,” said Katinas. “We regret what happened last year and recognize it was completely unacceptable. That’s why we are taking steps to improve and meet the very high standards of both our regulators and our many interested stakeholders across Canada.”
The Syncrude website is at www.Syncrude.ca.