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$3 Million Award Imposed As Syncrude Canada Ltd. Convicted Of Violating Environmental Laws
ST. ALBERT, Alta. -- October 22, 2010 -- Syncrude Canada Ltd. was convicted of one offence under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994, and one count under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The charges are related to the deaths of 1606 migratory waterfowl found in the company’s Aurora Settling Basin or tailings pond in 2008.
“This significant result and award demonstrates our Government’s ongoing commitment to enforce federal environmental regulations in the oilsands,” said Environment Minister Jim Prentice, “We will continue to work with all levels of governments to protect migratory birds and the environment.”
Syncrude Canada Ltd. was sentenced to pay an award of approximately $3 million. The award consists of:
- $300,000. This is the maximum fine available for an offence under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. This fine will be paid to the federal Environmental Damages Fund (EDF).
- $500,000. This is the maximum fine under Alberta’s Environmental Protection Act. Half of the provincial fine will be directed towards the creation of a program for bird protection and monitoring and integrated with aboriginal training at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
- $2.2 million to be applied to the following environmental projects:
- $1.3 million to be held in trust by the University of Alberta for the Avian Protection Research Study;
- $900,000 to purchase lands in the Golden Ranches Conservation Area near Edmonton.
The federal conviction is for the offence of depositing or permitting the deposit of a substance harmful to migratory birds in waters or an area frequented by birds, in contravention of subsection 5.1(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. The provincial conviction is for one count of contravening section 155 of the provincial Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act by failing to keep or store a hazardous substance in a manner that avoids contact with animals.
The charges stemmed from a joint investigation that was initiated after a large number of dead and dying migratory birds were found in the Syncrude’s Aurora Settling Basin located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta on April 28, 2008. The joint investigation was conducted by Environment Canada, Alberta Environment and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development enforcement officers.
The Environmental Damages Fund is administered by the Government of Canada. The fund was created to provide the courts and companies with an option to direct monetary penalties and settlements to invest in and restore the environment. It helps ensure polluters take responsibility for their actions and enforces the “polluter pays” principle.
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