Environmental protection order issued to Syncrude after deaths of blue herons by Alicja Siekierska, August 10, 2015, Edmonton Journal in Calgary Herald
The Alberta Energy Regulator issued an environmental protection order Tuesday to Syncrude Canada, after 29 blue herons were found dead last week at the Mildred Lake oilsands mining site north of Fort McMurray.
AER spokesman Bob Curran said a Syncrude employee discovered a blue heron covered in bitumen last Wednesday. The bird was alive but had to euthanized. After searching the site, 29 dead blue herons were discovered.
Curran said the dead birds were found in proximity to an unused sump — a low area where water run-off collects — and appeared to have died at different times.
“At this time we don’t know where the bird came into contact with the bitumen and we don’t know how the other birds died,” Curran said.
“Our investigators are trying to determine exactly when the deaths occurred and what caused them.”
The environmental protection order directs the company to collect water and soil samples from the site, develop a wildlife mitigation plan, release daily public reports and submit a final report to the regulator within 30 days of completion of all work required. [The “regulator” ordering the guilty party to do it’s own crime investigation, manage the crime scene and supervise the investigation? Convenient for regulator and company.]
The AER has sent staff two investigators to the site and will publish a report once the investigation is complete.
Syncrude has also launched an internal investigation into what caused the deaths.
“We are doing this because nobody is happy at our site right now, from our CEO and down,” Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson said. “Whenever these kinds of things happen, we take it very seriously and we take it very personally because nobody that works here wants to see these things happen.” [If that were true, the company and “regulator” would not have allowed an abandoned site to be deadly and remain so with no action to clean it up and deter wildlife]
The order is not enforcement, the regulator said, but a remedial order “directing the company to provide a plan to ensure that the natural environment is remediated.” [This sounds like Ralph Klein’s non-plan “regulation” plan. Shouldn’t the “plan” to remediate the abandoned site have been provided before the site was exploited, and certainly when the site was abandoned? It’s a lot too late to be asking for a “plan” after the killing is done.]
Jamie Hanlon, spokesman from Alberta Environment and Parks, said they “would not normally anticipate finding a large group of herons at an industrial facility.” [Why is the regulator covering for Syncrude’s failure to plan and remediate appropriately? Wildlife are expected to go to where water is, thus the mandatory deterrents that Syncrude did not have in place.]
Syncrude faces protection order after heron deaths in northern Alberta
by The Canadian Press, August 11, 2015, The Globe and Mail
Oilsands giant Syncrude is facing an environmental protection order after the deaths of 30 great blue herons at one of its sites.
The Alberta Energy Regulator has given the company a series of tasks after the discovery of the large shorebirds’ carcasses on the weekend.
Syncrude must collect samples from the site for analysis, develop a plan to clean it up and prevent future deaths and publish daily reports on its progress.
The regulator says some of the work has already begun.
The order is not considered a penalty but a directive to ensure the area is safe for wildlife.
An investigation into the deaths is also underway.
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