The province is imposing new rules for tailings ponds.

Tailings ponds are made up of waste from oil sands extraction. The ponds usually contain water, sands, silt, clay and residual bitumen.

On Tuesday, the province announced it is changing the regulations for how oil companies manage their ponds.

Companies will now need to improve their water-cleaning technology and make the land reclaimable within five years of the pond's closing.

The Energy Resource Conservation Board says Tuesday's announcement gives them more power to enforce the rules. "For serious infractions, we have the ability to actually walk in and shut a facility down. So we can shutdown all, or part, of an oil sands mine, we can essentially make it impossible for them to do business so this gives us the power to backup what we need to do," says Davis Sheremata from the ERCB.

Last year, 500 ducks died after they landed in a tailings pond owned by Syncrude. The government threatened to fine the company $1-million but so far there has been no fine and no other punishment. The province says the incident is still under investigation.

For more information about the province's new rules, click on the ERCB link to the right.