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Syncrude Back in Court Over Duck Deaths

ST. ALBERT, Alta. - Syncrude returns to court Monday morning to face charges over 1,600 ducks who died when they landed in the company's tailings pond in northern Alberta.

Tailings drain into a pond at the Syncrude oilsands mine facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., on Wednesday, July 9, 2008. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS) The oilsands company has pleaded not guilty to charges under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

If found guilty, Syncrude could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The charges were laid after a flock of ducks landed in one of Syncrude's tailings ponds north of Fort McMurray in April 2008.

The ponds contain billions of litres of tainted water used to remove thick, black oil from sand and are along the flyways birds use to migrate to and from northern nesting grounds.

Images and stories of the dying waterfowl made news around the world, prompting Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suggest the dead ducks had tarred Alberta's and Canada's international image.

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