Premier Ed Stelmach says his government expects answers from Syncrude after provincial staffers got an anonymous tip that 500 migratory birds landed in a toxic tailings pond near Fort McMurray.

Ice around the pond has prevented animal rescuers from getting to the stranded birds, some already dead and others dying, heavily coated in oil, said Alberta Environment.

Boats will have to be lifted by crane to get to the birds, Stelmach said.


Syncrude said in a release that it’s working closely with the government to get the ducks out of the large pool.

An investigation is underway at the company’s Aurora North Site mine facility north of Fort McMurray to figure out why the misguided flock flew into the oily pool. And the government wants to know why it took an anonymous tipster to raise the alarm.

“If something has happened in this sort, the company is obligated to report to the ministry of environment under conditions of their licence,” said Stelmach yesterday.

If it’s found that Syncrude doesn’t have a comprehensive waterfowl protection plan in place, the company could face up to $1 million in fines.

Syncrude blamed extreme weather conditions for not being able to place its propane-powered seasonal noise-makers at the pool.

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