Birds Killed by Canadian Tar Sands Projects At Least Seven Times Greater Than Official Stats Show


photo: Ramanathan Kathiresa via flickr

Another study detailing the negative environmental effects of continued tar sands development in Canada, and how independent review finds much greater impact that either the industry or government cares to acknowledge: The latest issue of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology has published a report showing that annual bird mortality in the toxic tailing ponds around tar sands project is far in excess of officially accepted figures.The article, Annual Bird Mortality in the Bitumen Tailings Ponds in Northeastern Alberta, Canada, looked at a variety of data from the years 2000 to 2007 and found an annual mortality rate of 458 to 5,029 birds. Official stats for mean annual mortality have that at just 65 birds. Even at the low end of the new studies findings, that's seven times more birds killed.

The report notes that the findings are likely conservative as birds found dead represent only a fraction of the true mortality rate.

The researchers also note several other important findings:

1) Landing deterrent systems at tailing ponds are only partially effective. And as recent events hit home, only work if actually deployed and turned on.

2) Though the greatest threat to birds from toxic tailing ponds is in spring, when the ponds remain unfrozen and natural bodies of water are still solid, there remains risk throughout the year.

3) The fate of birds, which may be exposed to toxins but not immediately killed, is unknown.

4) More research is needed to document the total number of birds migrating through the region and determine more accurate bird mortality rates.

5) Data on frequency of mass mortality events, often during extreme weather conditions, is lacking.

6) More systematic monitoring, standardized across all tar sands facilities, is needed.

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More on Tar Sands:
Canadian Tar Sands Corp Found Guilty of Killing 1600 Ducks in Toxic Tailing Pond
Canadian Tar Sands Will Be US' Largest Imported Oil Source in 2010: Ecologically Destructive & Immoral
Tar Sands Projects Responsible for Water Pollution in Alberta's Rivers - Despite Industry Claims to Contrary
National Geographic Slams Tar Sands - Canadian Politicians Pissed

Tags: Birds | Canada | Oil | Pollution

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