Canadian regulators have cleared Alberta oil sands producers of responsibility for the deaths of 196 waterfowl that landed in tailings ponds near mining sites.
The Alberta Energy Regulator concluded that weather conditions forced the birds down into the ponds and that all deterrent systems to prevent such landings were working normally.
The birds landed in ponds at sites operated by Canadian Natural Resources, Alberta-based Suncor Energy and Alberta-based Syncrude Canada.
“Unfortunately, the intense weather conditions on 4 November 2014 forced the waterfowl to land on the ponds in spite of the deterrents,” the regulator said.
Tailings ponds are used to hold materials that are left over after the targeted mineral is extracted.
Environmental laws require northern Alberta oil sands producers to have deterrents in place to keep waterfowl and other wildlife away from mining sites and tailings ponds.
In 2010, Alberta-based Syncrude Canada was fined $2.63 million when more than 1,600 birds died after they landed in a tailing pond at a company site in 2008.