November 6, 2014 / 6:08 PM / 4 years ago

Dozens of birds dead after landing on toxic ponds in Canada's oil sands

CALGARY Alberta (Reuters) - More than 100 waterfowl have been found dead after landing on toxic ponds of industrial waste in northern Alberta’s oil sands, according to reports received by Alberta’s Energy Regulator.

The AER said 122 waterfowl died after coming into contact with toxic ponds, known as tailings ponds, at Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Horizon project, Suncor Energy’s site, and at Syncrude Canada’s Mildred Lake site.Weather in the Athabasca oil sands areas may have contributed to the waterfowl landing on the tailings ponds, the AER said, adding it would assess waterfowl migration systems and whether deterrents at the ponds were working properly.

Syncrude is owned by a consortium of companies led by the largest owner, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd.

The company was fined C$3 million ($2.6 million) after an incident in 2008 in which 1,600 ducks died after landing on a Syncrude tailings ponds before bird-deterrent systems were activated.

Oil sands companies are required to have systems in place to discourage birds from landing on the toxic tailings ponds, which are a byproduct of processing crude mined from the oil sands.

Reporting by Nia Williams and Scott Haggett

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