January 2, 2019 / 11:42 PM / a year ago

Syncrude fined C$2.75 million over blue heron deaths

(Reuters) - Canada’s Syncrude has been directed to pay C$2.75 million ($2.01 million) after it pleaded guilty over the death of 31 blue herons at its oil sands site in northern Alberta, the Canadian province’s energy regulator said.

The Alberta Energy Regulator had investigated the deaths of the herons at Syncrude's Mildred Lake site in August 2015, and later brought on the charges against Syncrude.Syncrude pleaded guilty in the provincial court to one charge under Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and were assessed a provincial penalty of C$975,000, the regulator said in a statement here

“The remaining amount will be directed through creative sentencing projects that will support biodiversity, habitat, and migratory pathways for birds and other wildlife in Alberta.”

According to the regulator, the birds died after “they became oiled in an abandoned sump”, which was built to collect process-affected water containing residual bitumen from a storage site at the mine.

Syncrude has since taken the sump out of service, the regulator said.

Earlier in 2010, Syncrude was fined C$3 million for negligence in the 2008 deaths of 1,600 ducks in a toxic tailings pond, a case that fueled international concern about the environmental impact of developing Canada's oil sands. [reut.rs/2Tm8Bx5]

($1 = 1.3649 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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