FORT MCMURRAY, — Syncrude Canada has been granted an extra three months to enter a plea in response to government charges for the deaths of 500 ducks last year.
Justice Stephanie Cleary put over the plea until June 10 after Robert White, lead defence attorney for Syncrude, asked for the extension for time to examine the case against the oilsands company.
The ducks were flying on their spring migration on April 28, 2008, when they landed in Syncrude’s tailings pond and died after becoming covered in residue.
If found guilty, Syncrude could face a maximum fine of $500,000 from the province and an additional charge from Environment Canada of $300,000.
In January, Sierra Club Canada launched a private prosecution against Syncrude under the Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, which prohibits the deposit of a harmful substance in an area frequented by waterfowl.
One month later, the provincial and federal government served Syncrude with joint charges under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.