Syncrude to pay $2.75M for blue heron deaths
Syncrude has been ordered to pay $2.75 million in federal and provincial penalties for the deaths of 31 great blue herons found at the Mildred Lake oil sands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta. in August of 2015.
The company pleaded guilty in provincial court to one charge under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) and were assessed a provincial penalty of $975 000. The AER had laid the charges against Syncrude in August 2017.
The birds died because they became oiled in an abandoned sump. The sump was built to collect process-affected water containing residual bitumen from a storage site at the mine. Syncrude has since taken the sump out of service, which AER staff have confirmed was done in compliance with requirements.
The provincial penalty of $975 000 under EPEA includes a fine of $25 000. The remaining amount will be directed through creative sentencing projects that will support biodiversity, habitat, and migratory pathways for birds and other wildlife in Alberta. To identify these projects, the AER will accept requests for proposal through the Government of Alberta’s purchasing connection website.
The court order and agreed statements of facts, which include more information about the incident and penalties, are available on the AER’s Compliance Dashboard.