What a week for Syncrude.
Just three days after the oil sands producer was fined $2.9 million for the deaths of 1,600 waterbirds in 2008, more ducks landed in one of their toxic waste ponds and had to be euthanized.
Could the timing be worse?
During a freezing rain storm on Monday, hundreds of ducks landed on a toxic tailings pond owned by the company in the oil sands of northern Alberta, Canada, putting the birds in contact with tar-like bitumen floating on the surface.
“I cannot express how disappointed and frustrated I am that this incident occurred,” Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said of the latest bird deaths in a statement.
A smaller number of birds also landed on toxic ponds operated by Suncor and Shell in recent days, prompting the Alberta government to launch a “regional investigation” to make sure all bird deterrents were in place.
Another investigation is not exactly welcome news for stakeholders of the oil sands industry. Since June, the industry has been the subject of an international advertising campaign by environmental groups urging travelers to avoid Alberta (“the other oil disaster”) and a high-profile visit from Hollywood director James Cameron.