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Syncrude employee killed in accident at Aurora site

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Fort McMurray — The death of a Syncrude employee at a mine north of Fort McMurray is being investigated by Wood Buffalo RCMP and Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.

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Company spokesperson Will Gibson said that at 5 p.m. on Sunday, emergency workers responded to reports of an accident involving an employee using an excavator at the company’s Aurora site. Gibson could not comment on what led to the worker’s death while an investigation was ongoing.

The victim’s family has been notified. No other injuries were reported.

“The safety and wellbeing of our employees and contractors is a top priority. This is really devastating news. It’s a terrible day,” said Gibson on Monday morning. “We want everyone who walks in through the front gate to leave healthy and happy, and that didn’t happen yesterday.”

It has been a deadly past few months for oilsands workers. Two workers at Fort Hills were killed when a bulldozer and a pickup truck collided on Dec. 28, 2020. On Jan. 13, a man was killed when the bulldozer he was operating fell through a frozen inactive tailings pond. In February, Suncor began a review of existing safety protocols.

Meanwhile, at least eight workers are known to have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began last March. As of May 27, current oilsands outbreaks have been linked to nearly 5,000 COVID-19 cases. It is not known how many of those workers are suffering from long-term health problems caused by the virus.

vmcdermott@postmedia.com

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