Five ducks from a flock of 500 that landed on a toxic pond near Fort MacMurray have been recovered and were transported by Syncrude by jet to Edmonton yesterday morning for rehabilitation.
Though a handful of ducks were recovered from Syncrude’s Aurora mine tailing pond, Alberta Environment spokeswoman Cheryl Robb said that 99 per cent were too heavily saturated to stay afloat, sank to the bottom, and died.
Three of the recovered ducks, two mallards and a bufflehead, are at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton for treatment, and while 70 per cent of the toxic residue has been removed, they’re not out of danger.
“They’re still probably about 30 per cent oiled and need more washing,” said the group’s founder, Kim Blomme. “It’s too soon to tell if they’ll make a full recovery though.”
Blomme said that stabilizing the ducks is the most crucial part of rehabilitation, as washing off the oil is a highly stressful process.
Syncrude spokesman Alain Moore said site workers noticed the large flock had landed on the pond Monday morning, though officials did not notify Alberta Fish and Wildlife of the incident until that afternoon.
Reports from the province indicate that the first word on the incident came from an anonymous tipster, not from Syncrude.
The provincial government is investigating.