Bad news just keeps on coming for Alberta’s embattled oilsands industry.
Eight more migratory birds have landed on contaminated water in Fort McMurray, ConocoPhillips reported yesterday, even as Syncrude ramped up damage control after the deaths of most of 500 birds on a tailings pond last week.
ConocoPhillips Canada said in a release its employees reported eight migratory birds settled on a pond at the company’s Surmont oilsands project, southeast of Fort McMurray.
Employees first noticed three loons on the pond on Thursday and unsuccessfully tried to scare them away, the company said. Concern elevated yesterday when more birds landed on the pond.
Two of the birds were captured this afternoon and are being taken to a veterinarian in Fort McMurray for examination. One loon was found dead near the pond but the cause of death is unclear.
“We are concerned about the loons and are taking this very seriously,” said Matt Fox, senior vice-president of Oil Sands for ConocoPhillips’ Canadian operations.
Fox said part of the difficulty in warding off the birds is that the contaminated pond is one of the few bodies of water in the area that is free of ice.
Though two of three birds brought to Edmonton for rehabilitation in the Syncrude incident died last week, two newly recovered birds are currently in stable condition.
“It’s unfortunate that two died, but the two newer ones are doing much better,” said Kim Blomme, founder of the Wildlife rehabilitation Society of Edmonton.
Of the two latest birds brought to the rehab centre, one, a male mallard, was 90 per cent covered in oil, and the other, a coot, was 50 per cent covered. Blomme said that it’s not unnatural for mixed species of migratory birds to share the same water source.