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Bird deaths reported on Alberta oil sands tailing ponds

A tailings pond near the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, September 17, 2014. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it has received reports of 122 bird deaths at three oil sands operations.

TODD KOROL/REUTERS

More than 100 migrating birds have been found dead after they landed on oil sands tailing ponds this week.

The Alberta Energy Regulator issued a media advisory saying it has received reports of 122 bird deaths at three oil sands operations: Canadian Natural Resources Limited's Horizon tailings pond, Syncrude's Mildred Lake tailings pond, and Suncor Energy Inc.'s tailings pond.

Weather may have been a factor, the regulator's statement said.

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Operators of oil sands tailing ponds are supposed to set up deterrent systems to prevent waterfowl from landing on the toxic waste byproducts of extracting petroleum from the oil sands.

The AER said it is "assessing the operators' waterfowl mitigation systems and whether the deterrent systems were operating correctly."

Syncrude, which operates one of the biggest oilsands sites, was fined $3-million for the deaths of more than 1,600 ducks when they landed on its tailings pond in 2008.

In October 2010, more than 550 birds had to be destroyed when an early winter storm forced the birds to land on the toxic waste ponds belonging to Syncrude and Suncor.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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