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Suncor pays fine for oil-sands river pollution

Suncor Energy Inc. (SU-T) has been ordered to pay $200,000 in fines after pleading guilty to charges of releasing effluent into an Alberta river during construction of an oil sands mine in 2008.

Environment Canada, the regulator, said Wednesday that two charges were laid against Suncor under Canada's Fisheries Act after it investigated releases of effluent from holding ponds into northern Alberta's Steepbank River in June and August of 2008, while Suncor was working on its North Steepbank mine extension.

"It was an unfortunate event and we did take corrective measures immediately after reporting the issue to regulators," said Brad Bellows, a spokesman for Suncor. "The settlement catchment areas that this involved were closed late in 2008."

The charges are the latest for Suncor, Canada's largest integrated oil company and the biggest oil sands producer.

Last year the company paid $675,000 for failing to install pollution control equipment at its Firebag steam-driven oil sands operation near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and then keeping that information from provincial environmental authorities.

As well, Suncor and its work camp operator, Compass Group Canada Ltd., were fined a combined $400,000 after investigators found a subcontractor released partially treated wastewater into the Athabasca River between 2005 and 2007.

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