Oil company officially apologizes for duck debacle
Published Friday, May 2, 2008 5:52PM MDT
The oil company responsible for allowing 500 waterfowl to drown in a toxic tailings pond near Fort McMurray officially apologized for the environmental disaster Friday.
Syncrude CEO Tom Katinas said the company is looking into new technologies that would ensure the large-scale poisoning would never happen again.
"It shouldn't have happened and it's unacceptable," he said.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach also weighed into the debate Friday, saying there will be a full-fledged investigation into the deaths.
"We want to find out what went wrong, why it went wrong, who's responsible," he said.
The premier promised a probe involving three provincial departments and two federal ones.
Waterfowl researcher Colleen Cassady St. Clair said even with Syncrude's apology, the disaster is likely to happen again.
"Because of the position of the oilsands, the tailings ponds in wet form are really a liability," she said. "If there were a way to eliminate those that would be very helpful."
St. Clair said all companies should get rid of wet tailings ponds in favour of dry tailings.
The wet ponds look especially favourable to waterfowl in the winter when all other bodies of water would naturally freeze, St. Clair said, except those laced with potentially fatal toxins and oils.
"As long as that situation occurs those ponds are extremely attractive to waterfowl," she said.
Suncor Energy officials said they are already looking into switching technologies. The company hopes to close down three tailings ponds in the next five years.
"We're investing heavily in technologies that some day will allow us to mine without the tailings ponds," spokeswoman Anne Marie Toutant said.
With files from Scott Roberts