Judge finds Canadian oil company guilty in duck deaths
The ducks died after they were drenched in thick toxic oil when they landed on the pond in April 2008.
Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 06:44 PM
OILED: The judge found the company guilty of failing to prevent a hazardous substance from coming into contact with wildlife and of depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
A judge on Friday found oil company Syncrude Canada guilty in the death of some 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic settling pond used to extract oil from bituminous sand, local media reported.
Provincial Court Judge Ken Tjosvold in Edmonton, in the western province of Alberta, said the company did not take appropriate measures to prevent the migratory fowl from landing in the tailings pond, located 25 miles from Fort McMurray, in northeastern Alberta province.
The ducks died after they were drenched in thick toxic goop when they landed on the pond in April 2008.
"Syncrude had in previous years cut back substantially on a number of deterrents" to keep the ducks away, Tjosvold said in his ruling, according to local media.
Tjosvold found the oil company guilty of failing to prevent a hazardous substance from coming into contact with wildlife, and of depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds, the Globe and Mail reported.
"It should have been obvious to Syncrude that deterrents should be in place as early in the spring as possible," Tjosvold said. "Syncrude did not deploy the deterrents early enough or quickly enough."
The company now risks a fine of 800,000 Canadian dollars ($771,000 U.S. dollars), or possibly more if the judge decides on a figure for each dead duck. The sentence is expected on August 20.
"We are definitely pleased with this verdict, but we wish it would have come 30 years earlier so we didn't have the 170 kilometers of toxic waste to deal with," said Sheila Muxlow with the Sierra Club Prairie, a local environmental group.
Copyright 2010 AFP American Edition