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In Alberta provincial court, Syncrude is on trial for the death of 1600 migratory ducks, who were unable to escape from its oil sands tailing ponds in 2008. Federal and provincial governments allow Syncrude to create the giant, deadly ponds, as long as they take reasonable care to frighten the birds away. (Is this a reasonable solution?) In April 2008, Syncrude was late in setting up its deterrent system (noisy cannons). Both governments are now prosecuting it.

Meanwhile, the ponds are both leaking and expanding. According to the Rainforest Action Network, Canadian oil sands operators have already produced 6,000,000,000 tonnes of tailings, enough to fill a canal 10 m wide and 10 m deep, all the way across  the 49th parallel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.  That could kill a lot of ducks… Environmental Defence Canada has issued a report on the 11,000,000 litres that it says the ponds leak every day, into rivers, streams, and groundwater. That could affect a lot more than ducks.

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