Syncrude will pay $2.75 million to settle charges stemming from the deaths of blue herons at its Mildred Lake oilsands mine. The company has agreed to plead guilty to federal and provincial charges laid in August 2017.

Thirty herons were found dead in an abandoned sump on August 31, 2015, and a 31st bird had to be euthanized. Syncrude says an investigation found where they were killed wasn’t covered by deterrents used for the site’s tailings areas.

“We immediately took steps to bring all these areas on our Mildred Lake and Aurora sites into our waterfowl protection plan,” says Managing Director Doreen Cole. “We also shared our findings with other operators.”

Syncrude was charged with failing to store a hazardous substance in a manner that ensures it does not come into direct contact with, or contaminate, animals under Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, as well as charges under the federal Migratory Birds Act.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says $950,000 of the provincial penalty will go towards projects that will support biodiversity, habitat, and migratory pathways for birds and other wildlife in Alberta. It will be accepting requests for proposal.