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B.C. fines Teck Coal more than $16 million over Elk Valley infractions

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B.C. fines Teck Coal

The British Columbia government has fined Teck Coal Limited more than $16 million for exceeding pollution thresholds as well as failing to build an active water treatment facility on time at one of its operations in southeastern B.C.

The province’s natural resources compliance and enforcement database shows three fines were issued at the end of January, including one penalty of nearly $15.5 million as a result of the company’s failure to get its Fording River south water treatment facility operational by the December 2018 deadline in its permit.

The decision document from the B.C. Environment Ministry says the contravention at Teck’s mine outside Elkford was “major.”

It says the company’s actions significantly interfered with the ministry’s capacity to protect and conserve the natural environment and undermined the integrity of the regulatory regime.

A statement from Teck Coal, a subsidiary of Teck Resources Limited, says the Fording River water treatment facility is now operating and “achieving near-complete removal of selenium from treated water.”

While rarely harmful to humans, selenium can damage fish populations by lowering their reproductive success.

Teck says the delay in the completion of the facility was “necessary to implement a fix for a water treatment challenge” and the COVID-19 pandemic also affected construction.

The other two fines totaling nearly $1.1 million were issued in response to exceedances of selenium and nitrate at Teck operations near Sparwood, B.C., between 2019 and 2021.

The Jan. 31 fines are the latest in a string of penalties imposed on Teck Coal in B.C. The largest came in the spring of 2021 when a judge ordered the company to pay $60 million after it pleaded guilty to contaminating waterways in the region.

The company’s statement on Wednesday said it has invested $1.2 billion so far in water quality and it plans to invest a further $750 million over the next two years.

It says Teck is committed to making progress on its Elk Valley water quality plan “to stabilize and improve water quality in the watershed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2023.

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Fire that forced evacuation of Labrador City was nearly out — but then it exploded

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LABRADOR CITY, N.L. – Officials say a fire that forced thousands of people to flee Labrador City on Friday night was under control earlier this week, but a sudden change it conditions caused it to explode into “an extremely aggressive inferno.”

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says the blaze grew Friday from six square kilometres to about 100 square kilometres, advancing by 21 kilometres in just four hours.

He says the fire is now about six kilometres away from the community of Labrador City, and about one kilometres from the town’s landfill.

Labrador City is home to about 7,450 people, and they were ordered to leave on Friday night and make the six-hour drive east to Happy Valley-Goose Bay along a remote, two-lane highway.

The only stop along the way to get gas is in Churchill Falls, in central Labrador, which was temporarily evacuated last month because of another wildfire.

Forestry official Jamie Chippett says wildfire have already devoured twice as much land in Newfoundland and Labrador this summer than in typical years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Tired of moral victories, Elks host Redblacks looking for first win of 2024

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EDMONTON – Chris Jones doesn’t believe in moral victories.

The coach and general manager of the 0-4 Edmonton Elks is fully aware that his team has played four close games through what has been a very tough schedule.

Those four losses came against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions, teams that had a collective record of 16-4 going into this weekend’s action.

All four of the team’s losses were one-score games, and Jones is painfully aware that the Elks’ two most recent defeats came on field goals right at the final gun.

But losses are losses. And, for an Elks team that hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2019, it needs to start digging itself out of its hole when the Ottawa Redblacks (2-2) visit Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday.

“You don’t get any moral victories. Other people play tight games and lose them, too,” said Jones. “They keep score for a reason. We’ve got to find ways to be a winning football team.”

Elks quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson says the team “has no mulligans left.”

“An 0-4 team is what we are,” said McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who has racked up 1,225 yards through the air in his first four games with the team. “There’s no point in dwelling on that, there’s also no point on dwelling on the future. All we’ve got is this week. And we’re very confident in our abilities. We’re confident we can play with anyone in this league. We should be 4-0 against some of the best teams in this league.

“There is no fear, there is no panic, there’s just urgency. We need to find a way to get over that hump.”

The Elks can help transform the narrow losses into wins by jump-starting their run game. Last year, Kevin Brown finished second in the CFL rushing race with 1,141 yards. Through four games this season, he’s got just 140 yards. Ottawa’s Ryquell Armstead, meanwhile, is fourth in the CFL with 275 rushing yards.

So the Elks need to unleash Brown, and find ways to slow Armstead down.

“We’ve got to get KB going, that’s for sure. He’s a big weapon,” said Jones. “For us not to get him going would be short-sighted. We’ve got to have time of possession, we’ve got to run the football more effectively.”

As for Armstread, Jones said: “That running back is running as hard as anyone in the league.”

Redblacks coach Bob Dyce said the improvement in the team’s running game is all about toughness.

“Since I’ve been in this role, one of the things we’ve talked about is that we want to be a very physical team,” he told reporters. “We want to be able to run the ball, and that’s something we have to continue to lean on.

“One of the positives out of (last week’s) game is the physicality that our offensive line played with and the physicality that our back played with, and our receivers did a fantastic job blocking.”

The Elks are getting it done through the air, as Bethel-Thompson is averaging more than 300 yards passing per game. His favourite target has been Dillon Mitchell. After a disappointing sophomore season, Mitchell is currently sixth in the CFL with 355 yards. But he said “winning is the biggest thing for me”

“The satisfaction can be there from my performances, but the most important thing is for us to start winning some of our games. We have to become one of those teams that other teams are looking out for, and don’t want to play,” he said.

The Redblacks are coming off a 25-16 loss to Winnipeg, but, at 2-2, are taking strides from last season, when they finished 4-14 and missed the playoffs. Their two wins this season, over Winnipeg and Hamilton, were both one-score nailbiters.

Quarterback Dru Brown, who left last week’s game with a head injury, appears good to go in Edmonton. Dyce confirmed that the signal-caller has cleared concussion protocol.

OTTAWA REDBLACKS (2-2) AT EDMONTON ELKS (0-4)

Sunday, Commonwealth Stadium.

LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT 2023: Both the Redblacks and Elks missed the playoffs in 2023 with 4-14 records.

SIGN ‘EM UP: The Elks are coming off a bye week. During the bye, the team signed two former CFL All-Stars: defensive lineman Shawn Oakman and linebacker Derrick Moncrief.

DOUBLE DIP: After Sunday’s tilt, the Redblacks and Elks will meet again next week in Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2024.

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Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes

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PARIS (AP) — In a powerful tribute to the hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who have perished since the Russian invasion of their homeland, the Union of Ukrainians of France led a peaceful march of several hundred people in Paris on Saturday. The demonstration, held in the run-up to this month’s Olympic Games, aimed to honor these fallen sports heroes and highlight the ongoing impact of the conflict on Ukraine’s athletic community.

Several hundred athletes — including some who competed at elite levels — plus coaches and other people closely involved in professional and amateur sports in Ukraine have been killed in the full-scale invasion since 2022, some while fighting as soldiers on the front lines.

The human losses, the ongoing war, and the widespread destruction of sports facilities threaten to erode Ukraine’s edge, both at the Paris Games that open July 26 and in the future, as a powerhouse of Olympic sport after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.

“What is tragic today is that we have hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who will unfortunately not have the chance to come to the Olympic Games in Paris because the Russian Federation senselessly killed them,” said Volodymyr Kogutyak, vice president of the French Ukrainian association. “Some were killed fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces, but many others were simply killed as civilians.”

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The AP has been documenting and visualizing the toll the Russia-Ukraine war has had on Ukrainian athletes, coaches and sports facilities ahead of the Paris Olympics. You can view the series here.

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Among those being remembered is Maksym Halinichev, a promising boxer who won a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and was the junior European champion in 2017. Halinichev joined the Ukrainian army and was killed at the front in March 2023 at the age of 22. Other notable athletes include Ivan Bidnyak and Yehor Kikhitov, both pistol shooters and members of the Ukrainian national team. Bidnyak won a silver medal at the European Championships in Osijek in 2013.

Also commemorated is Stanislav Hulenkov, a 22-year-old judoka, whose body was only identified 10 months after his death, and Oleksandr Peleshenko, a weightlifter who represented Ukraine at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Anastasiia Ihnatenko, an acrobatic gymnastics coach, died in a Russian missile strike along with her husband and their 18-month-old son.

The event drew scores of participants, including Ukrainians, French citizens, and people from various other backgrounds, all united in their grief and determination to honor the athletes’ memories. Participants wore T-shirts displaying the names of the deceased athletes, and a minute of silence was observed, followed by speeches from organizers.

“These athletes were killed at a time when they could have been training to be chosen for the Olympic Games. That is significant. Russia did not give them the choice to train and go to Paris. That is the sad part,” Kogutyak emphasized.

Ukraine’s haul of 11 medals at the 2016 Rio Games was its smallest as an independent nation and it tumbled to a low of 22nd in the country rankings. Ukraine recovered to 16th at the pandemic-delayed Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, but just one of its 19 medals was gold — another new low.

The peaceful protest also served a political purpose, aiming to send a clear message regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the upcoming Paris Games. “The protest is to loudly and clearly state that the Belarusian and Russian athletes, regardless of what flag or colors they come to Paris under, are not welcome,” Kogutyak declared.

He further noted his sadness that some of those Russian athletes had been decorated by various ministries and had met President Vladimir Putin.

The human toll of the ongoing war, coupled with the widespread destruction of sports facilities in Ukraine, poses a severe threat to the country’s future in Olympic sports. The loss of these athletes robs the nation of its current talents and jeopardizes its sporting future.

It is still unclear how many Russian athletes will compete at the Olympics being held from July 26-Aug. 11. The IOC already barred them from taking part in the opening ceremony of boats sailing along the River Seine.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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