Tag Archives: Oilsands

Imperial Oil reports deaths of birds that landed on Alberta tailings ponds

In 2019 and in 2010, Syncrude was fined millions of dollars for the death of birds landing on its tailings pond.

Fort McMurray, Alta. — Imperial Oil Ltd. is reporting the deaths of 50 birds that landed on tailings areas near its Kearl oilsands project in northern Alberta.

Imperial says more than 100 birds per day, mainly grebes and shorebirds, have landed on the ponds over several days, mostly on open water.

Jon Harding, an Imperial spokesman, says some of the oily birds have been taken to a rehabilitation centre in Edmonton where they will be cleaned and assessed.

Imperial says the birds landed despite active deterrent systems including radar detection, noise cannons, eye-safe lasers, scarecrows, and long-range noise making devices.

It says the system is maintained and operated by a well-trained, experienced and dedicated team that works throughout the annual bird migration and breeding season.

Imperial says it believes exhausted birds landed at the Kearl site in spite of the deterrents because most of the natural water bodies in the area are still frozen.

“We very much regret this situation and are making every effort to protect the birds and learn from these increased landings,” Harding said in an email Tuesday.

“Our personnel, with expert third-party support, continue to actively monitor the situation and are taking all prudent steps to safely encourage the birds to avoid and move off landing areas.”

Harding said Imperial has notified industry regulators about what happened.

In January 2019, Syncrude was fined more than $2.7 million after pleading guilty to environmental charges in the deaths of 31 great blue herons at one of its oilsands mines north of Fort McMurray in 2015.

An agreed statement of facts said that Syncrude admitted that an abandoned sump pond in which the birds were found didn’t have deterrents to keep waterfowl from landing on it, even though the pond met criteria for being high risk.

Fencing and bird deterrents were then installed and the ponds were brought under Syncrude’s plan to keep wildlife away from toxic materials at its mine.

In 2010, Syncrude was fined $3 million after more than 1,600 ducks died when they landed on a tailings pond in 2008.

Syncrude was found guilty of federal and provincial environmental charges over the duck deaths.

By; The Canadian Press, May 6, 2020


First Nations Leader Calls On Former AFN Chiefs To Quit Prince Rupert Oil Project

Aboriginal leader Art Sterritt, who represents 10 coastal First Nations, has called on former AFN national leaders Shawn Atleo and Ovide Mercredi to disassociate themselves from an oil refinery proposed for Prince Rupert. Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Aboriginal leader Art Sterritt, who represents 10 coastal First Nations, has called on former AFN national leaders Shawn Atleo and Ovide Mercredi to disassociate themselves from an oil refinery proposed for Prince Rupert. Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK , THE CANADIAN PRESS

By Peter O’Neil, The Vancouver Sun

Coastal First Nations warns it will go after Shawn Atleo and Ovide Mercredi for joining company that is proposing bitumen refinery

The leader of the most prominent B.C. First Nations group opposing oilsands pipelines to the north coast issued an ultimatum Wednesday to two former national aboriginal leaders.

Art Sterritt of B.C. Coastal First Nations said former Assembly of First Nations grand chiefs Shawn Atleo of B.C. and Ovide Mercredi of Manitoba should withdraw their participation in the $10-billion “world’s greenest refinery” project proposed for the Prince Rupert area.

If they don’t, Sterritt said, Coastal First Nations will launch an aggressive effort to discredit Pacific Future Energy’s project and their role in promoting it. Sterritt said his members don’t trust the company’s vow to build a project that doesn’t pose a major environmental threat.

Pacific Future, headed by Mexican businessman Samer Salameh, announced in December that Atleo would assume the role of “senior adviser, partnerships” on the company’s senior management team.

Mercredi, AFN leader from 1991 to 1997, was named a part of the company’s advisory board that already included Robert Louie, chief of the economically successful Westbank First Nation near Kelowna.

Sterritt said First Nations leaders have muted their concerns out of respect for Atleo, a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island who stepped down as AFN leader last year.

But Sterritt said the gloves will come off if he can’t meet with Atleo and Mercredi and persuade them to abandon the company.

“I’m trying to set up a meeting and say, ‘hey guys, you’ve got a chance to bail on this or we’re coming after you,’” Sterritt said in an interview.

“We can’t allow them to pacify everybody, or make people in Alberta and everywhere else think that just because they’re involved that we’re all going to roll over here.”

Neither Atleo nor Mercredi would be made available for comment, said Pacific Future spokesman Mark Marissen.

“The site has not yet been determined, but suffice it to say that Pacific Future Energy will only go where we are welcomed,” he added. “We have had many constructive discussions with First Nations to date.”

Pacific Energy says it plans to build the world’s greenest and cleanest refinery, with “near net zero” carbon emissions, partly through the use of natural gas and renewable energy to power the facility.

The company plans to process 200,000 barrels of bitumen crude a day, a total that could be moved to Prince Rupert by rail, according to Marissen.

The company plans to ship refined products like gasoline and diesel to Asia, a step that will remove the threat of a devastating spill involving heavy diluted bitumen.

The refinery will “turn this bitumen into refined products like diesel and gasoline. In the case of a spill, these products float on top of water and evaporate,” the company states.

Atleo was at times outspoken as AFN leader in criticizing efforts to get Alberta’s bitumen to the B.C. coast for export to Asia-Pacific markets.

“The vast majority of First Nations that are impacted directly (by the projects) are giving expression to their opposition,” he said at a 2012 B.C. rally against the proposed Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat and the Kinder Morgan plan to twin its pipeline to Burnaby. “That’s my responsibility, to stand with them, and I will do so firmly.”

Atleo, in addition to his role with Pacific Energy, was named in October by Premier Christy Clark to lead talks between the government, First Nations and the business community on B.C.’s economic future.