Residents fear fishery damage from oil pipeline leak into Alberta river

SUNDRE, Alta. — Fishing guides and local residents fear a pipeline leak into the Red Deer River could do long-term damage to one of Alberta’s premier sport-fishing destinations and are demanding ongoing monitoring to track the spill’s effects.“They’ve got to be here for as long as it takes to monitor what’s going on along that river, for sure,” guide Garry Pierce of Tailwater Drifters said Monday.“I just hope they’re not going to come in for three weeks or a month and say ’Oh yeah, we’re good. We’ve got it cleaned up, and off we go.’ That’s just not going to be good enough.”“I just hope they’re not going to come in for three weeks or a month and say ‘Oh yeah, we’re good. We’ve got it cleaned up, and off we go.’ That’s just not going to be good enough.”Kelsey Kure, who lives on about two kilometres of waterfront along the affected part of the river, agreed.“There has to be a study done to determine the effects of this. You can’t just go on pretending that nothing happened, that there are no impacts.”On Thursday night, a section of pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada running under the river near Sundre leaked up to 475,000 litres of oil.The company has said high river levels flushed most of the oil downstream into Gleniffer Lake, a man-made reservoir and popular recreational area.On Monday, Plains Midstream said the oil release had been stopped within booms placed on the lake. A skimmer was removing oil from the lake and absorbent pads were soaking up oil at the site of the leak. Wildlife deterrents have been placed to try and keep animals from the water.Crews were working to clean shorelines and remove contaminated debris. More than 170 people were working on cleanup and remediation, the company said in a release.But that doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. Kure, a water resource technician for a forestry company, said oil is pooling up along the river’s margins.“(Oil) got mixed in with all the silt and sediment in the river. So wherever there’s sediment, there’s oil particles.”He also points out the affected stretch of river is highly braided.“You’re not talking about one channel. You’re talking six to seven to 10 channels. That just increases your impact area.”As well, oil is fouling a number of protected spots along the river, such as the Butcher Creek Natural Area, home to 58 bird species.Both Kure and Pierce fear the spill will kill off many insects in the water that are just now emerging from their eggs. It could also contaminate river bottom gravel, a spawning habitat for trout.They said that’s going to damage a fishery that people come from around the world to enjoy.“I got an email from one of my clients two days ago, from Denmark, who’s already heard about the oil spill and wants to know the impact it’s going to take on the rivers I guide him on,” Pierce said. “I told him what I could tell him — we got our fingers crossed that things are going to get cleaned up fast.”Phil French, head of the Red Deer River Naturalists, was at the spill site over the weekend. He said although water levels have begun to recede, it won’t be possible to estimate the damage until river flow is back to normal.“There was oil everywhere there,” he said.“It’s going to affect the ecology of that part of the Red Deer River valley for a long, long time. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in my grave and they’ll be still feeling the effects of this oil spill.”French said his group is already preparing a request to the Alberta government for long-term monitoring of the spill’s after-effects.“We are calling for that — long-term environmental monitoring of that part of the river,” he said. “We really don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be.”A spokesman for Alberta Environment was not immediately available for comment. read more

Amazon brings its unlimited twoday shipping service to Canada

TORONTO — Amazon is bringing its unlimited, two-day shipping service to Canada.The world’s largest online retailer says starting Tuesday, Amazon Prime will be on offer to Canadian customers for an annual fee of $79.The service is already available in the U.S. and six other countries.Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) says the two-day shipping guarantee will be offered in most of Canada. Customers in rural areas, particularly in the North or the Maritimes, can get unlimted shipping but without the two-day guarantee.Some areas will also get the option of upgrading to one-day shipping for an additional fee starting at $3.99 per item.Steve Oliver, the country manager for, says the shipping guarantee will apply to millions of products sold by the online store, including everything from DVDs to baby strollers.“We have been working on (it) over the last year and we’re very excited to launch,” said Oliver from the retail giant’s headquarters in Seattle.Oliver says the company knows that consumers are not only looking for selection and value when shopping online, but convenience.He said selection and price are important and the “other critical piece of convenience is knowing you can get products quickly and when you want them.”Amazon Prime has been offered in the U.S. since 2005, and recently expanded to include a free e-book lending service for Kindle users and a television and movie streaming service to its subscribers.At this point, Oliver says there are no plans to offer these options in Canada.He says the company was ready to bring Amazon Prime to Canada once its second fulfillment facility was opened in Delta, B.C., south of Vancouver in the fall.It also operates a similar facility in Mississauga, Ont., west of Toronto that assists with filling Canadian customer sells millions of items including English and French books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, sports and outdoors products, as well as baby, home and garden products. read more

Closing Bell TSX up loonie down as BoC leaves rates alone Bernanke

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market closed higher Wednesday with the focus mainly on central banks, as the Bank of Canada left its key rate unchanged and the Federal Reserve offered reassurances on economic stimulus.Here are the closing numbers TSX — 12,568.77 +51.88 0.41% S&P 500 — 1,680.91 +4.65 0.28% Dow — 15,470.52 +18.67 0.12% Nasdaq — 3,610.00 +11.50 0.32%The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 51.88 points to 12,568.77, with strong support from base metal stocks as investors continued to buy up oversold miners.The Canadian dollar was down 0.45 of a cent to 96.02 cents US as the Bank of Canada kept its key rate unchanged at 1% and indicated it is in no rush to raise rates.U.S. indexes were slightly higher amid remarks from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed could slow the pace of a key element of economic stimulus later this year if the economy strengthens. But Bernanke cautioned that the Fed wants to see substantial progress in the job market before scaling back its US$85 billion in monthly bond purchases.The Dow Jones industrial gained 18.67 points to 15,470.52, the Nasdaq rose 11.5 points to 3,610 and the S&P 500 index gained 4.65 points to 1,680.91.Bernanke also said in testimony before a congressional committee that the Fed’s timetable for reducing its bond purchases is not on a “preset course”. And he said the Fed could increase or decrease the amount based on how the economy performs.Markets went through weeks of volatility after Bernanke first mentioned in late May that the Fed could start tapering its bond purchases, which have kept interest rates low and fuelled a rally on stock markets, later this year and wind it up by the middle of next year.Since then, the Fed has tried to soothe nerves by stressing that the Fed won’t pull back on its stimulus unless the evidence was clear that the economy and the job market were improving as much as the Fed had forecast.“The Federal Reserve cried wolf a little bit by suggesting several times that tapering was to come and the market interpreted that as tapering is going to come sooner rather than later,” said Kash Pashootan, vice president and portfolio manager at First Avenue Advisory in Ottawa, a Raymond James company.“And then we reset that by starting to suggest in their wording that it will come but it is not going to be as close as we thought. So the markets rallied off of that but most of that is priced into the market.”Investors also had a number of major U.S. earnings reports to digest.Bank of America earned US$3.6 billion or 32 cents a share in the quarter after payments to preferred shareholders, up 70% from a year ago. The results were seven cents higher than analysts had forecasted and its shares were up 39 cents to $14.31.After the close, Intel posted quarterly earnings of 39 cents a share, which met estimates. Its shares moved down 1.7% in after hours trading in New York.On the economic front, the Fed said in its latest regional survey that it sees the overall economy growing at a modest to moderate pace, although there is also some reluctance to hire full-time workers. The Fed also said six districts reported faster growth in multi-family construction.Other data showed U.S. builders started work on fewer homes and apartments in June. However, the slowdown wasn’t enough to suggest the housing recovery is faltering.Developers began construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000 homes in June, nearly 10% below May’s total of 928,000, which was revised higher.Most TSX segments were positive and financials narrowly led advancers, up 1.05% rose with Royal Bank (TSX:RY) ahead $1.22 to $63.80 while Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) gained 91 cents to $58.04.The base metals sector ran up 0.95% even while September copper on the Nymex dipped six cents to US$3.13 a pound. First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) advanced 37 cents to C$16.15 and Rio Alto Mining (TSX:RIO) ran up 11 cents to $2.30. The segment has been strengthening over the last couple of weeks, up 10.9% from its lows of the year from late last month, despite weak copper prices.The industrials group rose 0.88% as Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) gained $1.53 to $133.30.Tech stocks also lifted the TSX as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) improved by 15 cents to $9.64.The energy sector edged up 0.44% while the August crude contract in the New York Mercantile Exchange moved 48 cents higher US$106.48 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) was ahead 44 cents to C$33.37.The gold sector lost about 2.65% as August bullion shed early gains to move down $12.90 to US$1,277.50 an ounce. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) faded 28 cents to C$16.34 and Kinross Gold Corp. (TSX:K) gave back 15 cents to $5.15.TOP STORIESBank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz signals rates to stay static for some timeHere are the top 4 risks facing Canada’s economy, according to the Bank of CanadaStocks rise after Bernanke stresses stimulus tapering not on ‘preset course’Housing slowdown makes Canada’s banks more attractive WHAT’S ON DECK THURSDAYU.S. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke reports on monetary policy to the SenateECONOMIC NEWSCANADA8:30 a.m.Wholesale trade (May): Economists expect 0.3% rise UNITED STATES8:30 a.m.Weekly jobless claims: Economists expect 345,000 new claims, down from last week 10 a.m.Philadephia Fed Index (July): Economists expect a reading of 8 Leading indicators (June): Economists expect 0.3% rise CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESBlackRock, Inc. Q2 earnings: Analysts expect US$3.84 a share Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc Q2 earnings: Analysts expect US$2.81 a share Capital One Financial Corp. Q2 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.69 a share Google Q2 earnings: Analysts expect US$10.78 a share Morgan Stanley Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 44¢ a share Microsoft Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 75¢ a share Philip Morris International Q2 earnings: Analysts expect US$1.41 a share Safeway Inc. Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 51¢ a share Verizon Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 44¢ a share CANADAShoppers Drug Mart Corp Q2 earnings: Analysts expect 71¢ a share read more

First Nations environmentalists occupy salmon farm in British Columbia

ALERT BAY, B.C. — A group of First Nations and environmentalists are occupying a salmon farm near Alert Bay, B.C., and say they won’t leave until the provincial and federal governments revoke permits for the facility.Ernest Alfred, a traditional leader from the ‘Namgis, Tlowitsis and Mamalilikulla First Nations, said he and other protesters arrived six days ago at the farm owned by Marine Harvest Canada on Swanson Island and are now building a shelter.He said the farm is threatening their traditional way of life by impacting wild salmon and herring stocks, and he’s also demanding an overall end to open-net fish farming in the sensitive Broughton Archipelago area.“We can’t sit by. I cannot sit by any longer while these farms continue to infest our waters, putting all of our marine ecosystem at risk,” he said.“The time for the very long debate about fish farms has passed. … These licences of occupation need to be removed immediately.”Alfred added that the company does not have a formal agreement with the ‘Namgis to operate in their traditional territories.Alexandra Morton, a biologist and long-time fish farm critic, is participating in the occupation with five others aboard a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel. She said four Indigenous protesters have set up on the farm itself.The protest was prompted in part by video filmed by Alfred and another First Nations leader, which was then released by Sea Shepherd last week that purported to show Atlantic salmon inside fish farms in the area between Alert Bay and Campbell River.Many of the fish appeared blind, deformed or diseased, Morton said.“I was stunned. There were so many fish that were clearly in poor health,” she said.Ian Roberts, a spokesman for Marine Harvest Canada, said no images indicate or prove disease. He said deformities are very rare in salmon, but like other animals and humans, they can occur.“We are able to remove any poor performing or deformed fish from our farms before they are sent to market,” he said. “Our salmon are very healthy, are regularly checked for health by licensed veterinarians and audited by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.”He said the company has regularly invited the ‘Namgis First Nation and its members to visit and observe its operations, but to date they had declined to visit or meet.“While this unscheduled visit was a surprise to us, we have allowed them to remain on site to observe our operations as long as they remain respectful and peaceful, and not harass our staff or harm our fish,” he said.“To date, they have remained relatively peaceful, but we are growing increasingly concerned about the health and welfare of the individuals. … We have again contacted the nation’s elected representative to meet and discuss their concerns.”Roberts confirmed the company does not have a formal agreement with the ‘Namgis, but he said the company has provided juvenile fish to the First Nation in the past for its land-based salmon farm, Kuterra.British Columbia’s Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she has not reached out to the protesters, but she plans to raise the issue with First Nations leaders at a gathering in Vancouver next week.“Our relationship and partnership with the First Nations around issues like this are critically important,” she said.No new tenure permits for fish farms have been approved in B.C. since 2015. A committee is currently examining wild salmon and the aquaculture industry, and is expected to submit a report at the end of November, said Popham.Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also responsible for granting operating licences to fish farms. The department did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.The recent escape of Atlantic salmon from a Washington state pen that held 305,000 fish has spurred debate in Canada about open-net fish farming and has led to calls for the country to focus on land-based aquaculture.— By Laura Kane in Vancouver read more

MR urges suspension of animal sacrifice

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has called for the temporary suspension of animal sacrifices in the country.The request comes as a tense situation was likely to arise with animal sacrifices scheduled to take place at the Sri Bhadra Kali Amman Kovil in Chilaw on Saturday. The exposition of the Kapilavastu relics in Sri Lanka is to be held till September 11. The sacred Buddhist relics were brought to Sri Lanka from India after more than 30 years on August 19. The district court in Chilaw had this week ordered that no protests or demonstrations be held around the vicinity of the Sri Bhadra Kali Amman Kovil until September 2. The order came in response to a complaint filed by the Chilaw police. President’s spokesman Bandula Jayasekera said that the President has requested that animal sacrifices are not made especially during the exposition of the Kapilavastu relics in Sri Lanka. read more

Rain expected in most areas today

It also said that in the sea areas there will be showers at several places off the coast extending from Trincomalee to Colombo via Hambantota . The department urged the public to take adequate precautions to minimize the damages caused by lightning activities. The Department of Meteorology says it expects showers or thundershowers to occur over most parts of the country today.While humidity levels will still be high, the department said that there may be temporary localized fairly strong winds during the thundershowers. Winds will be from the easterly or variable direction and speeds will be between 20 – 40 km/hr. The wind speed may increase up to 50-60kmph during thundershowers.

Action against Indians fishing in Lanka

The Indian government is planning “deterrent” action against Indian fishermen violating international waters with Sri Lanka, finding that trawlers and ships from this side are the biggest source of confrontation with the Emerald isle, the Times of India reported today.The decision to slap penalties and even suspend the licences of fishermen who are repeat offenders of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) stems from their refusal to heed the earlier warnings. At a recent meeting chaired by the foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, the view veered towards the fact that Indian fishermen are crossing the IMBL to fish in Lankan waters with impunity. The meet emphasized that Indian fishing boats were routinely transgressing the IMBL, with the Indian Navy pegging the figure at 700-900 every day.In a bid to enforce discipline, several long-term measures may soon be put in place. Besides deterrent penalty for violators and suspension of licence for repeat offenders, India may extend the “no fishing” period from the current 45 to 60 days and also during monsoons. New Delhi may set up a “no fishing zone” straddling the IMBL and India-Lanka Marine Disputes Authority. The move to rein in the Indian fishing community seeks to address the major flashpoint between New Delhi and Colombo, threatening the diplomatic detente besides emerging a polarizing issue in TN politics.In addition, India might take more serious measures like a ban on bottom trawling and use of monofilament and twin fold nets, which are the main culprits from the Indian side. This is not allowed in most countries, but Indian fishermen use these equipment which destroys marine ecology and stop issuing licences to new trawlers from operating in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar. Foreign minister Salman Khurshid spoke to his Lankan counterpart G L Peiris on Friday, seeking the release of 26 Indian fishermen in Colombo’s custody. In response, Peiris asked for a meeting between the fishermen’s associations of the two countries to resolve the issue. This has Indian government stumped because of Tamil Nadu’s rigid attitude, possibly for political reason. The TN government has stonewalled an early meeting of fishermen’s association, saying the atmosphere wasn’t conducive for it. This has the Centre explore alternative venue for such meeting like Puducherry or Bangalore. PM Manmohan Singh has personally weighed in on this with TN CM J Jayalalithaa as has Khurshid and the MEA brass, without any success. read more

HRW says Jagaths appointment blow to justice

In light of the Sri Lankan government’s resistance to accountability, the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 adopted a resolution calling on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to open an independent international investigation into allegations of abuses by both sides. The Rajapaksa government refused to cooperate with the investigation.The present government of President Maithripala Sirisena, elected in January 2015, has stated publicly that it intends to reverse Rajapaksa’s policies and deliver justice and accountability for war crimes. While positive steps have been taken to end the Rajapaksa government’s repressive governance style, the new administration has yet to make meaningful moves toward addressing wartime abuses.The government should put into place an effective accountability mechanism with a significant international component, Human Rights Watch said. Previous government accountability mechanisms have been impaired by harassment, threats, and violence against witnesses and commissioners. The best way to address this problem would be to create a combined international and domestic court similar to the successful hybrid courts in Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Sri Lanka’s new government has promised genuine accountability for wartime abuses, but naming the general of an abusive unit the army chief of staff is a slap in the face for victims,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Members of the UN Human Rights Council expecting genuine accountability in Sri Lanka need to closely scrutinize the government’s actions.” The 57th Division took part in the last battles of the war, including the extremely bloody and abusive fighting on a small stretch of beach in Mullaitivu district. Human Rights Watch documented the indiscriminate shelling of civilians and hospitals by government forces in the region where the 57th Division was deployed.The previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied any laws-of-war violations by the military and placed all blame for civilian losses on the LTTE. He rewarded top commanders for their role in the war. Gen. Dias served as the deputy head of Sri Lanka’s mission to Germany from 2009 to 2011. In 2013, Gen. Dias was denied entry visas to Australia and the United States for his possible involvement in war crimes. Sri Lanka’s promotion of a senior officer whose division was implicated in serious human rights abuses casts doubt on government pledges to credibly investigate alleged war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias, who led the Army’s 57th Division during the last two years of the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was appointed army chief of staff, one of the armed forces’ highest post. Although effective May 7, 2015, the appointment was only made public on May 15. The last months of Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long civil war, which ended on May 19, 2009, with the defeat of the LTTE, were marked by widespread violations of the laws of war by both sides. An independent report commissioned by the United Nations secretary-general found that up to 40,000 civilians, mostly ethnic Tamils, died during the war’s final months. “The government’s appointment of General Dias is further proof that Sri Lanka needs an independent justice process with a strong international component that can undertake impartial investigations and prosecutions,” Adams said. “Six years since the end of the brutal conflict, the victims of the war still await justice.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Karannagoda makes statement to CID on missing youth

Former Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda appeared before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) today to make a statement over the disappearance of some youth in 2008 – 2009.Karannagoda was questioned over a group of Tamil and Muslim youth who went missing during that period. Last year the CID questioned former navy spokesman D K P Dassanayake over allegations that some officers in the Navy were involved in the disappearance of several youth. (Colombo Gazette)

Mihin assures staff made redundant will be compensated

Mihin Lanka today assures that its staff who will be made redundant by the end of this year, will be compensated.It was decided to discontinue the services of Mihin Lanka, with effect from 30th October 2016. The decision was made by the Government, as part of its long-term strategy to restructure the local aviation industry and strengthen the offering and efficiency of Srilankan Airlines. The management of SriLankan Airlines has advised that due to the business operations of Mihin Lanka coming to an end on 31st December 2016, the airline envisaged that several staff members would be made redundant.Foreseeing this development ahead of time, the airline says it has made elaborate plans for the redeployment of Mihin Lanka staff. So far recruitment processes have been completed for a total of 130 (out of a total of 304) employees of Mihin Lanka. This recruitment and redeployment process is expected to continue until Mihin Lanka’s closure in December and all staff members who do not have the opportunity to join the national carrier, will be given a service severance package in alignment with specified government guidelines. Several discussions took place between Mihin Lanka staff and management at Mihin Lanka’s head office recently.The meetings were held to discuss employee concerns regarding their employment, compensation and the airline’s amalgamation with the national carrier, which is currently underway. Mihin Lanka says the meetings were conducted in a cordial and professional manner, without hostility and with the full cooperation of all parties involved.The management of the airline also reassured staff members that as many Mihin Lanka staff as possible will be absorbed. Accordingly details of the compensation package have been shared with all members of staff at Mhin Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) Mihin Lanka had been making a net loss since its inception in 2007. Projections for the current financial year ending 31st March 2017 were also declared as a net loss. All routes in Mihin Lanka’s route network, will now be serviced by SriLankan Airlines thus marking a new beginning for the national carrier and building a strong, efficient and competitive airline that will be a force to be reckoned with in the region. read more