R v Syncrude Canada Ltd, 2010 ABPC 229, 53 CELR (3d) 194

Syncrude Canada was charged with failing to store a toxic substance in the required manner, contrary to section 155 of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and for depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds contrary to section 5.1(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act. An investigation of the Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s Aurora Settling Basin revealed that several hundred waterfowl were trapped in bitumen on the surface of the Basin . All but a few of the birds died. The main issue at trial was whether Syncrude exercised due diligence to deter birds from landing on the tailings pond.

The Court found Syncrude guilty on both counts. The evidence was clear that migratory birds frequented the area of the tailing ponds and that the bitumen in the tailings were toxic to birds that came in contact with it. It was also clear that Syncrude did not deploy the requisite preventive system to prevent waterfowl and other wildlife from landing on the tailings pond.

Source: Case Law

Jurisdiction: Alberta

Topics: bitumentdepositdue diligencehazardous substancemigratory birdspollutionregulatory offencestrict liabilitySyncrudetailingstar sandstoxicwastewaterfowlwildlife

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