BY JACK DINI – A judge recently found Syncrude Canada Ltd, Canada’s largest oils sands producer, guilty in the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic Northern Alberta tailings pond in 2008, ruling the company should have had deterrents in place. There’s no word yet on a sentence but Syncrude faces possible fines of $800,000. (1)
Meanwhile, on the ‘green front’, over the first six months of operation, the huge 86 turbines on Wolfe Island, just outside Kingston, have killed 602 birds, 13 of which were raptors, and just under 1,300 bats. “Project this kill rate into the future, and Wolfe Island’s turbines might end up costing this continent over 12,000 birds (many of which are classified as threatened) and 26,000 bats in the next decade alone, not to mention the many tens of thousands of progeny the slain birds would have had,” reports Leslie Kaduck. (2)
Will Wolfe Island’s eco-terminations prove more palatable with the public because they are caused by a ‘green industry’? If Canada follows the United States’ lead, wind turbines will get a free ride. Speaking about the Syncrude incident, Canada’s Prime Minister declared it a ‘terrible ‘tragedy on national TV. (3) The Prime Minister didn’t mention the many more animals killed, or to be killed, by wind turbines.
As reported on this page last year, in July 2009 Pacificorp agreed to pay $10.5 million in fines for the deaths of at least 232 golden eagles, 46 hawks, 50 owls and nearly 200 other birds that had been electrocuted in Wyoming and in August, Exxon Mobil agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees for 85 birds which were killed after the animals came in contact with hydrocarbons in uncovered tanks. These were the latest of hundreds of cases that federal officials brought against oil and gas companies over the last two decades for violations of the Migratory Bird Act. Yet, although wind turbines are killing between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year, the US Department of Justice does not press charges, and there is no hue and cry from environmental organizations about the ‘green energy’ bird deaths. (4)
In Canada, environmental groups are gloating over the Syncrude conviction. (5)
Greenpeace said the Syncrude trial exposed gaping holes in the regulatory process and highlighted insufficient enforcement and monitoring of oil sands operations. (6) However, Greenpeace has chosen to remain silent on wind turbine bird kills.
So there it is: Most likely Canada will follow the US and environmental groups lead and maintain a double standard: one that’s enforced against the oil, gas and utility sectors, and another that exempts the wind power sector from prosecution.
- Jeffrey Jones, “Syncrude Guilty in 1,600 Duck Deaths in Toxic Pond,” http://planetark.org/wen/58565, June 28, 2010
- Leslie Kaduck, “Island wind turbines killing birds,bats,” National Wind Watcher, June 12, 2010
- George Koch, “Syncrude’s Dead Ducks Hardly a Terrible Tragedy,” albertaventure.com, May 1, 2010
- Jack Dini, Hawaii Reporter, “Wind Energy Gets a Free Pass on Bird Kills,” Hawaii Reporter, November 10, 2009
- Diane Katz, “Windmills kill more birds,” Financial Post, June 30, 2010
- Darcy Henton, “Oil Sands Syncrude found guilty in deaths of 1,600 ducks,” Edmonton Journal, June 25, 2010