Alta. rejects calls for public inquiry into dead ducks



EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is rejecting calls for a public inquiry into the death of 500 ducks that landed on a toxic oilsands tailings pond.

Greenpeace activist Mike Hudema stood on the steps of the legislature Monday and demanded an independent review into last week's waterfowl disaster in northern Alberta.

"No amount of well meaning words...and not even a week's worth of full-page apology ads are going to solve these problems,'' said Hudema. "Only truthful answers, hard questions and meaningful action will do that.''

Syncrude ran such ads in several major newspapers on the weekend.

But Environment Minister Renner says he has full confidence in the province's ongoing investigation of what happened April 28 at a Syncrude Canada site near Fort McMurray.

"I think that we have people that are very capable of conducting an investigation,'' the minister said. "I have the utmost amount of faith in the report that they'll be providing for me.''

The death of the ducks is unacceptable and the province will find out why it happened and take action to make sure it doesn't happen again, said Renner.

"The investigation is going to look at...what led up to the incident, what caused the incident and then we'll make a decision as to what we need to do from that point.''

Opposition Leader Kevin Taft told the legislature he also believes a public inquiry is what's needed on a wide range of issues, including whether steps should be taken to reduce the amount of oilsands wastes stored in lake-sized tailings ponds.

"We have toxic lakes covering 50 square kilometres that when 500 birds land in them only three come out alive,'' said the Alberta Liberal leader. "How are we going to wind these things down?

"The stakes are so high here. And the only way we're going to get the real truth is a full public inquiry.''

Aboriginal leaders in the Fort McMurray area have already called on the federal government for an inquiry.

Hudema also said independent wildlife and environmental experts should be sent out to search other tailings ponds for dead wildlife.

ConocoPhillips Canada reported Saturday that eight birds, including three loons, had settled on a briny pond at that company's oilsands project northeast of Fort McMurray.
It's becoming evident that the 500 ducks represent just a fraction of the wildlife being affected by the toxic ponds used to hold oilsands wastes, suggested Hudema.

"How effective is the province's monitoring program? Do they have sufficient officers in the field and what is left to industry to report on their own?''

Whistleblowers are playing a key role in alerting the public, so Greenpeace wants the province to offer job protection for people who make those calls, said Hudema.

The environmental group has said anonymous tipsters called in about both the Syncrude and ConocoPhillips incidents.

Greenpeace says it is considering a provincewide campaign to ask potential whistleblowers to come forward if they have evidence of environmental threats to humans or wildlife.

"If the government continues to let big oil set the rules in this province, then we will be forced to respond,'' Hudema said in a release.

Greenpeace is also calling for stiffer penalties for environmental infractions.

Premier Ed Stelmach told a news conference last week that Syncrude would face charges if they were found negligent in the death of the 500 ducks. A maximum fine of $1 million was mentioned.

But Hudema suggested $1 million is "chump change'' to a company that has profits in the billions.

They were supposed to have safe guards in place to precent this sort of thing from happening.... they clearly didn't, therefore they failed the public in this situation and thus an independant review is needed.

I don't need some politicians telling me what is and isn't needed when it comes to them screwing up on the things they are responsible for.
I think a fine in the range of 100 million or so would do more then an inquiry. An inquiry will do nothing in the long run, they will come up with a list of suggestions as to prevent another occurance and that will be the end of it.
I think they should have to pay a fine, yes, but I don't want to see it going into just any gov coffer.

Seems to me that ducks unlimited would be a great place for such monies to go.
I just want to make sure I have things in the proper perspective.
In the pursuit of energy needs for North America the deaths of a few ducks (whatever % 500 is of the whole population) can be in the news for weeks (as an outrage), other areas that have proven reserves will not be developed because of concerns for 'wild-life' (pregnant Caribou) but we will support military wars that kill over 1M people (Natives from the land the resources are located in, and that number is from just 1 single country) and classify those deaths as nothing more than 'collateral damage'. Just how hypocritical is that mentality?
I'm quite sure the Iraqis that have been following this story are more than sympathetic for the ducks and all resistance to a foreign invasion will cease as soon as the 'rebels' see what effects their resistance is having on the population of ducks!
Iraqis and Ducks?

The thing that gets me about this is that the two "known" incidences were not reported by the companies or the governments responsible for those incidences.... they were reported to us by Whistleblowers.

So that kinda begs the question as to how many other situations like this have already occured without us even knowing about it / covered up?

Similar Threads

no new posts