While environmental groups consider the $3 million fine paid by Syncrude Canada (an oil company) to be a pittance and a mere slap on the wrist in killing almost 1600 ducks at one of their tailing ponds in 2008, almost three days after the ruling, another 350 ducks have been found dead at one of their tailing ponds yet again.

However, this time the incident has occurred at the Mildred Lake tailings pond, where the ducks landed on Monday despite the deployment of deterrent systems (according to Syncrude) before the incident occurred. It is estimated that this figure of 350 is still on the rise as rescue crew continue to scour the tailing ponds for any possible surviving ducks.

The response from the Government of Canada can be adequately summarized in the words of Mark Warawa, parliamentary secretary to the Environment Minister, who said, “"This government takes this incident very seriously. This is completely unacceptable."

What will also follow is an investigation by Environment Canada enforcement officials into the slaughter of these ducks, along with clearly setting the mandate that will require oil companies to “prepare the oil-sands in the most environmentally responsible way”.

While expressing concern over the incident, Syncrude’s CEO and President, Scott Sullivan, said he was also puzzled as the company has been successful so far in avoiding such incidents from recurring again (since 2008). He has promised that the company intends to work with the scientific community in the area in order to gain insights into the ducks’ migratory patterns and the impact that the weather had on the 350 ducks that were forced to find a place to land.

Since other oil firms such as Suncor and Shell have also had such incidents occurring at their tailing ponds, environmentalists continue to maintain that it is only by the elimination of these tailing ponds that the lives of birds will be saved.