Niagara, Ontario, Canada, July
18, 2012 - The same advanced radar technology that
helps keep birds and planes apart at airports is now protecting
birds from contact with tailings ponds at Alberta Oil Sands
The Accipiter® Bird Protection Radar System recently installed
at Syncrude Canada Ltd. facilities north of Fort McMurray, Alberta,
is the largest and most sophisticated radar-based bird protection
system ever deployed. This advanced radar technology is developed
and manufactured by Canadian company, Accipiter Radar Technologies
Inc. based in Niagara, Ontario.
To cover the tailings ponds at Syncrude's facilities, the system
seamlessly integrates numerous radar units and hundreds of
wirelessly controlled, radar-activated bird deterrent devices that
can all be monitored and controlled from a central site.
There are several types of deterrent devices, both on land and
floating on the ponds, including high-power acoustic hailing
devices, propane cannons, strobe lights and animated predator
effigies. The system uses rugged Birdavert™ deterrent modules
manufactured by Alarm Control Systems, Inc. of Salt Lake City,
Utah, which are proven under harsh mining conditions.
Radar activation permits the deterrents to remain inactive until
birds are detected and then they are triggered at the ideal
distance from the bird for maximum effect. The sophisticated
tracking radar measures the location, altitude, speed, direction
and size of each bird and can distinguish safe behaviour, such as
flying away from or overflying a tailings pond, from risky
behaviour such as flying toward the pond while descending.
Dr. Bob Beason, Accipiter's Radar Ornithologist explains, "Birds
habituate more slowly to deterrents that are triggered only in
their immediate presence. That makes radar-activated deterrents
more effective than timed or randomly activated devices at tailings
ponds. It follows that high selectivity to risky behaviour will
result in less unnecessary triggering, reducing habituation."
In addition to activating deterrents when needed, the new system
offers additional benefits towards bird protection. It tracks every
movement of every bird in its combined field of view every couple
of seconds and permanently stores the data for analysis.
The historical data are available to help plan bird protection
strategy and to measure and optimize deterrent effectiveness.
Researchers can use the data to add to the scientific understanding
of bird behaviour in the Northern Alberta environment, which in
turn can lead to improved bird protection methods for all oil sands
and mining operators in the region.
Accipiter radar's core mission is to develop radar technologies
that improve safety of life and the environment. "We are delighted
to be involved in protecting birds through this innovative
application of our Radar Information Network technology, which is
perfectly aligned with our core mission." Accipiter's
President & CEO Dr. Tim J. Nohara noted.
Syncrude has spent many millions to develop a comprehensive
deterrent system that is consistent with industry-best practices,
notes Cheryl Robb, Media Relations Advisor, Syncrude
This system includes:
- Radar systems that are far reaching and integrated to monitor
all the ponds. A radar-based system with automated activation of
deterrents when birds approach a tailings pond. The radar systems
include 300 falcon modules, with flashing strobe lights, high
powered acoustic devices and 100 hyper spikes that emit sound in a
specific direction to deter birds from coming in the area.
- Year-round staffing and deployment of deterrents in areas of
- Noise cannons on rafts and shore-based that activate when
waterfowl is in the area. When something triggers the radar, the
cannons go off. They will not activate if there aren't any birds in
the area, making the cannons more effective.
"The radar gives us the ability to see three dimensions and is
designed to merge data into one picture. The data is controlled and
processed by operators in the control centre. The operator can see
the entire area of the tailings ponds on the monitor," said Ms.
"Information from the radar is recorded in the system to monitor
migratory patterns of waterfowl. With the system, the controllers
can also track the size and trajectory of the birds."
The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority is interested in coming to
see our fully deployed radar control deterrent system and our high
powered acoustic devices, adds Ms Robb
About Accipiter Radar
Accipiter Radar, sells, operates and supports radar
information networks for homeland security, defence, bird strike
threat management and environmental protection
applications. Accipiter has won the business of the RCMP, DND,
U.S. DoD, Dept. of Homeland Security, and Federal Aviation
Administration, as well as every branch of the military, law
enforcement agencies and corporations throughout North