Bear attack injures worker at Suncor site as producer faces safety scrutiny

A worker at a Suncor Energy Inc. oilsands site was injured in a bear attack over the weekend, adding to concern about the company’s safety record after a string of fatalities in recent years. 

The person was transferred to a hospital and released hours after the encounter with the animal, which occurred at about 8 p.m. on May 6 at the Base Plant operation in northern Alberta, company spokesman Leithan Slade said in an email. A bear attack in 2014 resulted in the death of a Suncor oilsands worker in the same area.

“A full investigation is underway, and it would be premature and inappropriate to speculate on the cause,” Slade said. “Suncor does provide personal deterrents such as bear spray, together with training, for workers who work within or close to wildlife habitat. We also have standards with respect to the use of wildlife fencing and an on-site professional wildlife contractor for bear surveillance and monitoring.”

The incident comes as Suncor’s new chief executive officer, Rich Kruger, has pledged to focus on improving worker safety. Alberta regulators laid five charges last month against Syncrude, a Suncor oil-sands joint venture, in the death of a worker who drowned at the facility in June 2021.

The fatality was one of several in recent years at Suncor-owned sites — a record that was a central theme of activist Elliott Investment Management LP’s campaign to shake up the company’s management. Suncor’s former CEO, Mark Little, stepped down in July after a death at Base Plant.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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