Judge rules in favour of Crown's case on Syncrude waterfowl incident

FORT McMURRAY, AB, June 25 /CNW/ - Today, a provincial court judge ruled in favour of the Crown on the case involving Syncrude's waterfowl incident of April 2008. Before deciding whether to appeal this matter, Syncrude will review the judge's decision on the charges.

"This is a significant decision and it is important that we take the time to decide our path forward," said Syncrude President and CEO Tom Katinas. "Our decision to go through a lengthy and difficult trial wasn't about the fine. As we said in court, we are deeply concerned that the judge's decision on these charges sets a precedent that could have serious ramifications on Canada's mining industry."

The federal government charged the operator under Section 5.1 of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, which states no one "shall deposit a substance that is harmful to migratory birds...in waters or an area frequented by migratory birds". The provincial charge was laid under Section 155 of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act that states "a person who keeps, stores or transports a hazardous substance or pesticide shall do so in a manner that ensures that the hazardous substance or pesticide does not directly or indirectly come into contact with or contaminate any animals, plants, food or drink".

The use of these charges could have serious ramifications for the Canadian mining industry because it challenges the legality of settling basins. This leaves Syncrude and other industrial facilities open to private prosecutions and business and operational uncertainty, even if the federal and provincial governments do not file charges. Under today's technology, settling basins remain a critical environmental component of the operation since they permit the storage and recycling of process water, thereby reducing the use of fresh water.

"Syncrude is committed to being responsible in everything we do whether it is in protecting our employees or managing the impacts on the environment," Katinas said, adding reclaiming tailings is a key focus area and we continue to research and develop better ways of doing things. "Not a day goes by at Syncrude that we don't think of these birds and our deep regret about what happened."

Since the incident, Syncrude has made changes to its bird deterrent system based on its investigation. Those changes are outlined at www.syncrude.ca.

The Syncrude Project is a Joint Venture undertaking among Canadian Oil Sands Limited, ConocoPhillips Oil Sand Partnership II, Imperial Oil Resources, Mocal Energy Limited, Murphy Oil Company Ltd., Nexen Oil Sands Partnership, and Suncor Energy Oil & Gas Partnership.

SOURCE Syncrude Canada Ltd.

For further information: For further information: Cheryl Robb, 780-970-6923, or Syncrude's website at www.syncrude.ca

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