“The drowning of the waterfowl last April shouldn’t have happened and is unacceptable,” said Syncrude’s president and CEO Tom Katinas. “There is tremendous resolve in our organization to learn from this experience and help ensure it does not happen again.”

In April 2008, a large number of waterfowl landed on Syncrude’s Aurora settling basin. The birds (initially estimated at 500, final count now released as 1,606) drowned after becoming coated in residual bitumen floating on the water surface.

In response to the incident, Syncrude today announced a series of measures aimed at improving its waterfowl protection systems in advance of this year’s spring migration period.

The new system will see year-round deployment of deterrents on the settling basins in areas that aren’t frozen. In addition, the system includes an enhanced monitoring system, pre-deployment of shore-based deterrents in advance of spring break-up, and an increase in the number of deterrents by at least 30 per cent. This new system is already in operation.

“Everyone at Syncrude understands that our stakeholders expect the very best from us when it comes to protection of wildlife,” said Katinas. “We regret what happened last year and recognize it was completely unacceptable. That’s why we are taking steps to improve and meet the very high standards of both our regulators and our many interested stakeholders across Canada.”

Let’s hope it works.

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