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Imperial Oil reports bird landings at its Kearl tailings areas

Imperial Oil logo at the company's annual meeting in Calgary on April 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Imperial Oil has reported bird landings at its Kearl tailings areas.

Since Sunday, April 26, there have been several days with over 100 birds, primarily grebes and shorebirds, that have landed on tailings areas, mostly in open water.

About 50 dead birds have been collected along with 60 birds that were covered in oil.

Partially oiled birds were taken to a rehabilitation centre in Edmonton, where they will be cleaned and assessed, with the successful cases to be released in the coming days.

In an email statement, Imperial has confirmed the landings have occurred in spite of numerous best-in-class active deterrent systems in place on site including 360-degree radar detection, noise cannons, eye-safe lasers, scarecrow/effigies, and long-range acoustical devices that use a variety of deterrent methods. The systems are operated by a well-trained, experienced and dedicated on-site team, throughout the annual bird migration and breeding season.

They are assuming exhausted birds landed at the Kearl because most of the natural water bodies in the area were still mostly frozen, due to the extended winter and abrupt migration.

“We very much regret this situation and are making every effort to protect the birds and learn from these increased landings,” said Jon Hardin, public affairs advisory for Imperial Oil.

The company is working with expert third-party support, to actively monitor the situation and are taking all steps to safely encourage the birds to avoid and move off landing areas.