EDMONTON, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Greenpeace today condemned a lawsuit
launched against it by Syncrude, Canada's largest tar sands producer and
polluter. The civil suit follows a Greenpeace action at Syncrude's "Aurora"
site in northern Alberta on July 24th when activists deployed two banners at
the same toxic tailings pond where 500 ducks were killed last April.
Although Syncrude acknowledged the civil disobedience action by
Greenpeace did not affect production and the RCMP found no criminal behaviour
in the peaceful protest, the company is seeking an injunction against
Greenpeace, $20,000 in general damages, and $100,000 in punitive damages, in
addition to legal costs.
"This is a punitive lawsuit designed to financially cripple a non-profit
organization and intimidate critics of the tar sands," said Mike Hudema, a tar
sands campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. "Syncrude does not want a lantern
hung on the world's dirtiest oil project."
Syncrude has two active tar sands mining and upgrading facilities north
of Fort McMurray. The company produces 350,000 barrels of synthetic crude per
day, and released over 12.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2006 alone -
the highest in the industry. Syncrude was recently ranked dead last amongst
tar sands operators for its environmental record.
"It's ironic that with all of Syncrude's environmental damage in the tar
sands, we are the ones facing court," said Hudema. "Syncrude has clearly
violated Alberta's environmental laws but the Province has still not pressed
Greenpeace says the Syncrude claim resembles a typical SLAPP lawsuit
(Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) which is generally intended
to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal
defense and punitive damages.
Syncrude is a joint venture, the largest partner of which is Canadian Oil
Sands Trust, an investment trust with little public profile. However, the
second largest partner, with a 25 per cent stake, is Imperial Oil - a fully
integrated oil and gas company with 2,000 ESSO gas stations across Canada. The
Calgary-based Imperial earned profits of $3.19 billion in 2007, and is a
wholly owned subsidiary of the U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil.
For further information:
For further information: Mike Hudema, Greenpeace tar sands campaigner,
(780) 430-920, (780) 504-5601