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Syncrude has decided to make a deal, if it can, rather than keep fighting. The trial for killing 1600 ducks in a tailings pond was  scheduled to resume August 18,  in order to decide whether Syncrude can be fined for both the federal and provincial offences. Instead, the case has been adjourned again until October 22. In the interim, Syncrude and the prosecutors are reportedly negotiating on “creative sentencing”. This might mean that, instead of paying a large fine, Syncrude will spend an equal or larger amount of money on improving its bird deterrent systems, and perhaps on some habitat improvements. For example, birds are attracted to the tailing ponds in the spring because they are the first to melt and lie directly under the migration pathways; maybe Syncrude could use some of the extra heat to melt some clean, nearby body of water first. Watch for better surveillance of the ponds to be part of the deal, plus maybe some money for biological research into bird deterrents. Syncrude will undoubtedly be looking for credit for the program it instituted to reduce bird kills in the tailings ponds. What we are not likely to see is any action to reduce the destruction of bird habitat by the tar sands developments, already estimated at  58,000 to 402,000 birds lost from the regional population, probably permanently. See:

Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence

Kevin P. Timoney and Peter Lee, The Open Conservation Biology Journal, 2009, 3, 65-81 65

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