NEWS RELEASE · 25th June 2010
Verdict highlights need to enforce regulations to clean up toxic tailings lakes
Simon Dyer, Oil Sands Director for the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to today's guilty verdict against Syncrude on provincial and federal charges arising from the deaths of more than 1,600 ducks at the Aurora tailings lake in 2008:
“This guilty verdict is an important milestone that highlights the need for improved vigilance and reporting around wildlife deaths at oil sands operations. However, a real victory would be in enforcing regulations to clean up the ever-growing toxic tailings lakes that currently cover 170 square kilometres - an area larger than the city of Vancouver.
“Although the Energy Resources Conservation Board introduced Directive 074 - aimed at reducing the volume of liquid tailings created from the oil sands extraction process -- analysis by the Pembina Institute and Water Matters revealed that seven of nine oil sands operators do not plan to adhere to the directive. In April of this year, the ERCB announced it would accept Syncrude’s tailings plans, despite the company’s failure to comply.
“Not enforcing environmental rules stifles innovation and the clean up that is required. It is unfair to companies that are proposing to address the tailings problem, it further damages Alberta’s and Canada’s reputation, and it increases risks to the water supply and wildlife.”