CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc has applied to regulators to use new technology that it said on Friday will allow it to speed up reclamation of its toxic oil sands waste ponds in northern Alberta.
Suncor, Canada’s biggest oil company, said the method involves converting the liquid tailings into a solid material by adding a polymer, then depositing the material in thin layers over sand.
The technology will help the company meet tighter regulatory standards in Alberta for tailings, a byproduct of oil sands extraction that consists of clay, sand, water and residual oil.
Tailings became the focus of international attention in the spring of 2008, when 1,600 ducks were killed after landing on such a pond at Syncrude Canada Ltd’s nearby oil sands site.
Suncor said that, under its new process, the tailings can be reclaimed in place or moved for final reclamation. The material dries in a matter of weeks, it said.
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson