Duck Probe Moves to More Secrecy
Posted by mhudema on July 8, 2008
Alberta Environment investigation of dead ducks moves to internal review
By KRISTY NEASE
Monday July 07, 2008
Alberta Environment has finished collecting evidence for its investigation into the deaths of about 500 ducks at a Syncrude Canada tailings pond in early May.
The provincial department will now begin reviewing the information it has gathered before handing over the file to Alberta Justice to determine whether or not any charges will be laid, according to Cheryl Robb, an Alberta Environment spokeswoman.
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Environment Canada were also involved in the investigation.
Placing wildlife deterrents around tailings ponds such as the Aurora pond where the incident occurred is part of regulatory requirements outlined in the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
No deterrents had yet been placed on the pond due to a late spring snow storm that dumped record snow in the area before the ducks landed.
“We had covered most of the ponds on our site,” said Steven Gaudet, Syncrude’s manager of environmental services and reclamation, after the incident. “This (the Aurora pond) was the next pond to be done.”
By the time the program was set to restart after snows melted, the ducks were already landing.
If it is found Syncrude did not comply with the province’s requirements, it could face penalties of up to $1 million.
It is not known how long the internal review process will take, but Robb said the investigation is “a priority for the government,” and that some time in August is a possibility.
It is also not known how long it might take for Alberta Justice to make a decision once they receive the results of Alberta Environment’s investigation.
Syncrude representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.