Syncrude to pay $2.75 million for great blue heron deaths at oilsands

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On January 2, 2019, Syncrude Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty in the Provincial Court of Alberta to one count of violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. Syncrude Canada Ltd. was sentenced to pay a fine of $1.775 million, which will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

Syncrude also pleaded guilty to one charge under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and was sentenced to pay a fine of $975,000

On August 7, 2015, Environment and Climate Change Canada said its wildlife enforcement officers received a report of 31 deceased great blue herons that were exposed to bitumen at the Syncrude Canada Ltd. Mildred Lake facility. Environment and Climate Change Canada’s investigation confirmed 31 great blue herons were found in an abandoned sump, and 30 of the birds were deceased upon discovery.

In a statement, Syncrude said that incidental water bodies such as inactive sumps were not covered by deterrents that are used in tailings areas.

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“We immediately took steps to bring all these areas on our Mildred Lake and Aurora sites into our waterfowl protection plan,” said Managing Director Doreen Cole. “We also shared our findings with other operators.”

Syncrude Canada Ltd. was charged with depositing a substance that is harmful to migratory birds or permitting the deposit of such a substance in waters or an area frequented by migratory birds or in a place from which the substance may enter such waters or such an area.

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