Bear kills Suncor employee on oil sands site in northern Alberta

Reuters
Suncor Energy
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Aerial views of the mines of Syncrude Canada Ltd and Suncor Energy Inc. Tar sands, or oil sands, are very dense and contain a form of petroleum.  (Photo by Veronqiue de Viguerie/Getty Images)

A female Suncor Energy employee has been killed by a bear on the company's oil sands base camp site near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, a company spokeswoman said.

The large male black bear attacked the woman in a busy part of the sprawling industrial complex, approximately 25 kilometers north of Fort McMurray, on Wednesday afternoon. The employee was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We are shocked by this very unusual incident and there are no words to express the tragedy of this situation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to family, friends and co-workers," said Mark Little, Suncor executive vice president, Upstream.

"All of us need to focus on personal safety and I would urge everyone to be extremely vigilant in dealing with wildlife."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Alberta Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) responded to the incident and the bear was put down.

Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said at this stage there were limited details of what happened but a full investigation was underway into why the bear attacked.

"It's a major industrial site with lots of noise and activity. Other workers tried to intervene," she said.

AESRD officers are in the process of installing traps and cameras and helping patrol the borders of the site, Seetal added.

Suncor is Canada's largest oil and gas company, with the majority of production coming from the oil sands, a region heavily populated with bears and other wildlife. Black and grizzly bears come out of hibernation at this time of year.

This is the third employee death on Suncor's oil sands site this year, although the two other incidents were work-related.

Seetal said she did not know of any other bear attacks on site.

(Editing by David Gregorio)

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