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Archive for April 30th, 2008

Hundreds of ducks dead or dying after landing on tailings pond

Posted by mhudema on April 30, 2008

Breaking News

Updated: April 30, 2008 at 08:11 AM CDT

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Hundreds of migrating ducks are dead or dying after landing on a tailings pond owned by Syncrude Canada Ltd. and ice surrounding the small lake full of toxic sludge is hampering rescue efforts.
More National Breaking News

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was visibly angry Tuesday as he questioned why noise-making canons were not deployed to scare the waterfowl away from the pond filled with oilsands wastes.

“The problem here is that there’s ice around the pond and you can’t just push a boat in (to rescue some of the birds),” said the premier. “The company will have to lower the boats by crane into the water.”

Company and government officials estimate there are roughly 500 birds trapped in the toxic pond in a disaster that has never before been witnessed in the northern Alberta oilsands region.

“Many of them will die as a result of this incident,” said Syncrude spokesman Alain Moore. The birds landed on the pond Monday.

Moore said the company is working with Alberta Fish and Wildlife in hopes of rescuing some of the birds.

“Our CEO is taking a personal commitment to lead this investigation team because it’s definitely a top priority at Syncrude,” he said.

But Environment Minister Rob Renner told The Canadian Press late Tuesday that it’s now looking doubtful that any of the birds can be saved.

Renner explained that the surviving birds are diving under the toxic water when approached, making recovery nearly impossible.

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