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Get Alaska statewide news from the stations of the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN). With a central news room in Anchorage and contributing reporters spread across the state, we capture news in the Voices of Alaska and share it with the world. Tune in to your local APRN station in Alaska, visit us online at APRN.ORG or subscribe to the Alaska News podcast right here. These are individual news stories, most of which appear in Alaska News Nightly (available as a separate podcast).
Updated: 22 min 52 sec ago

Major General Thomas Katkus Responds To National Guard Sexual Assault Allegations

Thu, 2014-05-01 18:04

Governor Sean Parnell has been responding to allegations that sexual assault crimes within the state’s National Guard were reported to him four years before he requested a federal investigation. The Governor says as soon as he had specific information, he acted. Parnell’s commissioner of the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Major General Thomas Katkus says the federal investigation should help improve the system.

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Major General Thomas Katkus, how large do you think the sexual assault issue is within Alaska?

The numbers I’ve got show us below what it would be in Alaska, we have a different number, total number of cases,  because we track victims, don’t track it as if we’ve got that many suspects. We’ve got 37 cases; of those 37 cases we have only 11 reported sexual assaults are Guard members as perpetrators. My position is even one is too many and it’s a problem – a large problem; 37 cases over the past 5 years.

How does Alaska compare to military nationally for sexual assault?

With Alaska being the highest sexual assault in the nation, dark climate, small houses, alcohol, there is a lot of propensity toward that kind of activity, which is unfortunate but also very rampant in cold, dark climates. I think the problem is getting better results with the resources being put toward it. The Guard is community based so we have a lot of resources beyond DOD. We have a lot of members in the National Guard that are counselors or lawyers so we have resources. The issue is out there fairly evenly across all services but we’re better equipped to offer services.

Does the legal structure of the Guard make it more cumbersome, more difficult to track cases and get information, Anchorage Police Department handling cases?  Helpful or more difficult?

Difficult to address. We as a National Guard, we don’t have an independent criminal justice system. We’re not like active duty that has its own Uniform Code of Military Justice to address specifically infractions within the National Guard, because we have members that are also traditional, that go home at night and are under the laws of their communities. The authorities that cover our members are really the local authorities, the state troopers or other law enforcement. It’s not our purview to supplement that. We take our own disciplinary actions through normal business practices, rules and regulation enforcement and then we have discipline. But we don’t incarcerate individuals. We don’t have a requirement; that our preponderance of evidence is what we go off of, 51% is civil action as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt in any type of criminal investigation.

Governor Parnell said he acted to call for a national investigation as soon as he had specifics. What kind of specific information is needed to prompt an investigation?

For the National Guard Bureau that the Governor asked, it’s just the request of the Governor. The Governor, anytime he has a desire to have an independent assessment or look into an organization he’s responsible with, which would be the Air Guard or the Army Guard, he can contact the National Guard Bureau, advise them of the problem and they would propose the best solutions to step forward to look into it. Because it could be a safety issue, it could be an area of concern on finance, so either the safety investigators would come out or an auditor. Or in this case to look at a problem with how the reporting system is or an assessment of how overall, we are addressing sexual assaults or sexual harassment in the National Guard. So, in this case, again, he puts the problem statement forward and they provide the resource that best answers that.

Why wouldn’t chaplains risking their positions to bring the concerns forward to the Governor be enough to prompt an investigation by the DOD?

I don’t know that I have an answer for that. The Chaplains shouldn’t be at risk for bringing any of these issues forward. There’s no risk to them to, matter of fact it’s incumbent on them to bring those issues forward. Their job description is pretty much, they advise the command….trying to make sure I get this right so that this is fairly accurate. The significant responsibility that they’re held to is to advise the commander of issues of ethics, morals and morale within an organization. So they’re almost held on a no harm, no foul. They’re required to bring the bad news forward if they’ve got the bad news.

Well it seems there was some confusion or hesitancy in that regard. Your deputy commissioner asked the chaplains to sign a document saying they wouldn’t speak on behalf of the Guard, when actually what they were doing was bringing victims concerns forward. Did you ask him to do those things or was that something he felt he needed to do as deputy commissioner?

I believe the letter you’re referring to is a letter that went out to all of our members as we approached the political season. It was advising everyone to be very judicious and cautious on how they answer anyone that is approaching them and asking them for an official position of the department. So in that sense that was just to reiterate to clear it with a supervisor and we’re not prohibiting anybody from talking to the press, their chain of command or other people. Just that they try to clear that, get the best information possible and if they’re speaking for the department, make sure they clear it through our public affairs office in order to make sure we have the best, most accurate information out there.

Do you think there needs to be changes in reporting and how people can bring these concerns forward to help boost confidence for people who are taking on the very difficult thing to have to come forward and talk about trauma and painful episodes they may have experienced?

Absolutely, especially with as many deployments as we have because it’s not only in the area of sexual assault, it’s any type of experience that they are not normally exposed to in civilian activity. So there are traumatic events in everyone’s life. We follow DOD policy and its changing constantly. I think in the last five years the department of defense has definitely stepped up its game. It’s provided additional resources and of the limited training dollars, a significant amount of that resource is directed to bystander training, self help awareness to educate people about reporting any type of sexual assault or activity related to it. Then the resourcing for the investigation of those has increased and we’ve worked on training our investigators to investigate the civilian equivalent complaints of sexual harassment. WE have additional resources that would look into any allegations of sexual assault, after the law enforcement have also been engaged on that same topic. And then the victim advocacy program we have. Multiple victim advocates have been assigned to the Guard as of late. Currently have three sexual assault coordinators assigned and 42 victim advocates assigned to the National Guard. So your question was, do I see better ways to do it? We can always improve but it is an incredible change over the past five years to where we are now.

Major General, how damaging is this for morale?

You know, it’s damaging for morale, but where I’m very, very concerned, is we’ve made great strides in making people aware, we have a process in place, it’s very transparent and they can feel comfortable reporting and they’re going to get the help. With all of the adverse press and the senior officials who have basically expressed their concern and trust, I would hope that would not translate to the other end of the food chain to the young members who may be victimized and may now decide not to come forward because of lack of trust in the system. The DOD has spent five years trying to put in place a system that works and I’m very afraid that this might be undermined by the lack of confidence that may be generated by this perception that is out there.

Are you confident that when this investigation is over, that the system will show there are no major problems with how the guard is handling reporting and the cases that come forward?

I’m confident that the assessment will come in with a better way of doing it. This is the first time we’ve really stepped back and evaluated from top to bottom, the entire process.  I would hope they would come in and advise us of better ways to do business. So we look forward to what we will get as feedback. My feeling is we have a good system in place right now, it’s a workable system that follows all of DOD’s processes and regulations and I’m thinking an outside look will provide that much more suggestions that we can incorporate and make this better.

My last question would be, you just mentioned Guard members and a perception of what’s happening. What would be your concern about perception? We know there are high rates of assault, what perception are you concerned about?

Well, the perception I’m concerned about is that, in the past five years, 70% of reported assaults, the perpetrator was a member of our community, not the National Guard. So 11 assaults in five years, those members were Guard members who committed those acts, so out of 37 cases, only 11 have we had to discipline one of our own members over. The rest, the other 26 cases, are all cases were we have provided exceptional support for the victim. Those victim advocates have engaged. We’ve taken the victims to local law enforcement, supported them through all of the issues and tried to make sure we could be there for them. That’s what’s not getting reported here is DOD as an organization has provided incredible response in taking care of the soldiers and airmen that are assigned in the National Guard and that’s where I’m really afraid the perception is being missed here.

Is the Guard looking at, the people who have been victimized. Are there efforts underway to track back and look at where are people getting into positions where they’re at risk. Is there research into that so you can help young men and young women avoid some of those pitfalls?

There’s always different types of training we have people exposed to and mandate and some of the best is bystander training where not only do you train people to look out for themselves and not put themselves into harm’s way but also train soldiers to look out for other people that may be inadvertently putting themselves in harm’s way. So they teach them how to carefully approach a situation and defuse it. Sometimes a third party, that extra set of eyes that the potential victim may not be able to see. So your answer is yes, we’re training people to be safer and we’re training them to look out for each other and realistically that’s how you start solving all of these problems is everyone becomes aware of looking out for each other.

Categories: Alaska News

Flint Hills Begins Shutting Down Fairbanks Refinery

Thu, 2014-05-01 18:04

Officials with Flint Hills Resources-Alaska began shutting down the company’s North Pole refinery on Thursday.

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Categories: Alaska News

Project To Restore Herring, Starting In Sitka

Thu, 2014-05-01 18:04

Aerial view of the Starrigavan boat launch, looking south. (ADF&G photo)

Before statehood and the advent of scientific management, Southeast Alaska’s herring populations were harvested – and depleted – without much thought for the future. Many believe the herring population in Sitka Sound now is a fraction of what it was in those days, and wonder if herring stocks – like salmon – can be restored.

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Just look at Raven Radio’s Facebook page. Photos of active herring spawn in Sitka Sound and hemlock branches coated with eggs are the kind of posts that go viral. It’s clear that many more than the 9,000 people that live in Sitka are herring obsessed.

“Culturally it’s important obviously as a major subsistence resource in the Sitka area but also very important in trade,” says Chuck Smythe, the Director of the history and culture department at Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Smythe says there are places that used to attract herring that don’t anymore. “Some of the oral history suggests that herring just sort of stopped coming and moved to another area.”

He is working with the Sitka Tribe to figure out why they stopped coming, and how the population might be restored throughout Southeast. The Alaska Native Fund granted SHI $15,000 to develop a herring restoration plan in the Sitka vicinity. They chose Sitka because it still attracts heaps of herring. Jeff Feldpausch, STA’s Resource Protection Director, agrees. “Right now Sitka has one of the larger herring stocks in Southeast.” Close to 80,000 tons of herring.

“So, if you were looking at transferring eggs to other locations Sitka would probably have the biomass available,” says Feldpausch, “as far as herring eggs to be able to do that.”

Figuring out exactly how to transplant herring eggs is the tricky part.

“I’ve been told stories about how harvesters from other communities would come over to Sitka and pick up eggs for their community and on their way home they would place a few branches in the water in different locations,” says Feldpausch.

Anecdotes like this one will be heavily weighted in the brainstorming process. But, a recent study on Pacific herring will serve as the framework. Anthropologist Tom Thornton was the principal investigator of the Herring Synthesis Project. Smythe says it’s the most thorough attempt to date at demystifying the Pacific herring.

Forman: And so, why now?
Smythe: Well it was just realizing that this significant study had been completed. I came to the realization that it would be good to use this information and take it to the next step.

The Herring Synthesis Project combines archaeological, biological, and cultural data. It identifies things like how herring were distributed throughout Southeast, what factors could have changed spawning location, and where herring could thrive. And basically concludes that there are a lot less herring than there used to be.

Feldpausch says the goal is to return herring to historical levels, “before the late 1800s.” Back before commercial sac-roe fisheries, back before herring were mainly reduced to oil, and back before herring were simply fished for bait.

Smythe says he is in the midst of working his way through Thornton’s study. “And there’s just a lot we don’t know about herring.” Smythe says there are a number of factors that explain why herring left certain areas: pollution from logging and the pulp mill, other industrial activities that may have contaminated the water, or hatchery salmon released when the herring are most vulnerable – to name a few.

STA will host a panel discussion of experts in June. Thornton’s study will serve as the framework for the discussion. And Feldpausch says the project is a productive step. And hopes the end product will be implemented throughout Southeast.

Categories: Alaska News

Peggy Wilson Ending Long Legislative Career

Thu, 2014-05-01 18:04

One of Southeast’s longest-serving lawmakers is retiring. Peggy Wilson says she will not seek re-election to her Wrangell-based House district.

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She’s stepping down for two reasons.

Wrangell Rep. Peggy Wilson addresses the Southeast Conference in 2011. She’s retiring after seven legislative terms. (CoastAlaska News)

“My mom hasn’t been well. And I just worried about her so much. And because of session I couldn’t go,” she says. “And since December, I’ve had four great-grandbabies being born and there’s another one on the way. I missed it with my grandchildren and now my grandchildren are having children. I feel like it’s given me a second chance.”

Wilson says her own health is fine. But at 68, the long days and late nights are taking their toll.

“I don’t want to be falling asleep in committees. And maybe I need to let somebody younger do this,” she says.

Wilson’s been in Alaska’s House of Representatives for 14 years. She began as the Wrangell-Petersburg-Sitka representative. Then reapportionment dropped all but Wrangell and added Ketchikan, Saxman, Hyder and Prince of Wales Island.

She originally planned to run for re-election this year. But she knew it would be tough.

“Ketchikan really is so used to having their own person that they really want somebody from Ketchikan. But they wanted somebody from Ketchikan last time and I made it,” she says.

Wilson’s first big issue was education. And she’s continued to push for funding and other improvements.

“It was my legislation that got the cost differential into place. And I feel real good about that,” she says.

But she’s very concerned about the Legislature and administration’s recent directions. She says focusing on charter, church and home schools will hurt existing public schools.

“We do need to make changes in education. But we can’t make them and leave people out. We’ve got to make the changes so that it can ultimately reach everyone and not just a select few,” she says.

One of Wilson’s biggest disappointments was the failure of a roads, ferries, harbors, airports and highways infrastructure fund.

The retiring Wrangell lawmaker authored bills for the past six years. One measure made it through the House and to the Senate Finance Committee this year. But it remained there when the final gavel fell.

She hopes to find someone to carry the ball.

“I definitely am going to look for people who will continue, because I firmly believe for the health of Alaska overall, our roads need fixing. We need to have more roads. And it’s not going to happen with the current status quo,” she says.

Wilson continues on the job until her successor is sworn in early next year.

That’ll cap a 19-year legislative career – 14 in Alaska and five in her previous home of North Carolina.

“I’m will miss it. There’s a little bit of emptiness in my heart already and I can feel it. You just can’t walk away and forget it. It’s impossible,” she says.

Hear an interview from her last campaign.

At least two people are running for Wilson’s House seat.

The most recent to announce is Ketchikan Visitors Bureau CEO Patti Mackey, a Republican who ran two years ago. Another is Ketchikan teacher Dan Ortiz, an independent. Others are expected.

Wilson, a retired nurse, says she’ll endorse whoever wins the August GOP primary. Wilson won her first Alaska election in 2000, making her the first woman to serve in two states’ legislatures.

Categories: Alaska News

Historical Photo Collection Being Made Available Online

Thu, 2014-05-01 18:04

This photo of a Koryak boy with his bow and arrow in Russia, 1901, is one of about 700 that was recently digitized and made available online by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

In 1897 the American Museum of Natural History sent a team of anthropologists to the Pacific Northwest and Siberia. Six years later, they had confirmed the theory that humans migrated across the Bering land bridge. And they brought back thousands of photographs – many of which are now available online for the first time.

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Categories: Alaska News

Ballot Initiatives Could Boost Younger, Liberal Voter Turnout

Thu, 2014-05-01 17:58

When the Republican-led Legislature went into overtime last week, they knocked a set of citizen’s initiatives onto an already packed November ballot. In the process, they changed the playing field in a fight for a U.S. Senate seat that their party needs to pick up if they want to take control of Congress. But the shift might not be in their favor.

Caroline Tolbert has studied politics for decades. A professor at the University of Iowa, she’s written dozens of papers on elections and she’s given special attention to the role ballot measures play in them.

Among her big takeaways?

“Ballot measures do have an effect in increasing turnout,” says Tolbert.

And people tend to factor those issues in when they’re voting on candidates. If a measure is popular, voters are more likely to support a candidate who is seen as sympathetic to it.

Alaska voters are looking at three initiatives this November. There’s one to increase the minimum wage, one that would make it harder to build the proposed Pebble Mine, and another that would regulate marijuana like alcohol. There’s also a city-wide question in Anchorage that would repeal a controversial labor law.

Tolbert says that combined, these initiatives could boost turnout by as much as five percent.

“The conditions are ripe for these ballot measure to potentially increase turnout and potentially shape the races in 2014.”

With the caveat that Alaska is uniquely difficult to survey, all three initiatives have polled favorably. They’re especially likely to attract support from younger and often more liberal voters. February results from Public Policy Polling show that 88 percent of people who identify as very liberal support raising the minimum wage, while just 24 percent of people who say they’re very conservative like the hike.

The numbers are similar for marijuana.

Tolbert says this could amount to an advantage for Democrats.

“If there’s going to be a spillover effect from minimum wage, or legalization of marijuana, or an environmental type ballot measure, it should if anything it would have a positive effect on the Democrats running for office,” says Tolbert.

And that advantage could be a special boon to Democratic incumbent Mark Begich, who is fighting off three Republican challengers in the U.S. Senate race. That race is one of the most closely watched in the country, and it’s been listed as a toss-up by all the big political analysts.

None of the Senate campaigns, including Begich’s, would speak to how they see the initiatives affecting the race.

But the initiative campaigns acknowledge their ballot measures could shake things up.

“It has the potential to, without a doubt,” says Art Hackney, a political consultant working on the anti-Pebble Mine initiative. “A lot of that has to do with the candidates as they go forward to the election. I mean I said early on that if they moved them across to the general it would certainly have a big benefit for [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Byron Mallot and Mark Begich.”

That’s because those Democrats have come out against the development of Pebble Mine.

Even though Hackney sees Democrats benefiting, he says initiatives like his should still cross some political lines. He can see a person supporting the anti-Pebble initiative and voting for a Republican ticket. After all, he’s a prime example of that.

On top of his initiative work, Hackney has a portfolio of Republican clients.

“We are involved in a super PAC trying to help Dan Sullivan beat Mark Begich,” says Hackney. “Will we do that heart and soul? Absolutely. If there is some level that Mark Begich will try to trade upon the Pebble issue, so be it.”

Taylor Bickford is a spokesperson for the marijuana initiative, and he’s kind of in the same camp. Like Hackney, he’s mostly worked to get Republicans elected. He also thinks the ballot measure he represents has crossover appeal, especially to the state’s more libertarian leaning voters.

“If you were looking at it objectively, I think it would be safe to say that having the marijuana initiative on the ballot will have some impact on turnout,” says Bickford. “It’s just very, very hard to say how significant that’ll be.”

Of all the initiatives, the minimum wage measure seems to be the one that most obviously helps Democrats.
Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami has been a major backer of the effort. His union has put money into the initiative and helped gather signatures to get it on the ballot. He says his constituency will definitely be coming out to vote on it.

“We’re going to be very motivated and our membership will be very motivated to turn out,” says Beltrami.

Beltrami points out that the Alaska minimum wage initiative was in the works a year before national Democrats seized on it as a strategy. And originally, all of the initiatives were scheduled to be on the primary ballot, alongside a referendum to repeal Gov. Sean Parnell’s law capping oil taxes.

But he says it became apparent the other party was afraid of it after a bloc of Republican state lawmakers tried and failed to pass their own minimum wage hike that would have taken the initiative off the ballot.

“You’d have to be blind not to see the implications that it has on the elections,” says Beltrami.

Now the question is just how big those implications will be.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: May 1, 2014

Thu, 2014-05-01 17:19

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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NTSB Recommends Safety Review Of Ravn Alaska

The Associated Press

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending a comprehensive audit of safety programs and regulatory compliance of the company providing much of the commuter air service within Alaska.

The NTSB announced Thursday it’s recommending the “urgent” action by the Federal Aviation Administration for a review of HoTH Inc.

That company includes Hageland Aviation, Frontier Flying Service and Era Aviation doing business as Ravn Alaska, Ravn Connect and Corvus Airlines.

The NTSB says it has investigated six accidents and one incident related to the company since 2012.

That includes fatal crashes November 29th near the Saint Marys airport and on April 8th about 22 miles southeast of Kwethluk.

Major General Thomas Katkus Responds To National Guard Sexual Assault Allegations

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Governor Sean Parnell has been responding to allegations that sexual assault crimes within the state’s National Guard were reported to him four years before he requested a federal investigation. The Governor says as soon as he had specific information, he acted. Parnell’s commissioner of the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, Major General Thomas Katkus says the federal investigation should help improve the system.

Initiative-Packed November Ballot Expected To Influence Voter Turnout

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

When the Republican-led Legislature went into overtime last week, they knocked a set of citizen’s initiatives onto an already packed November ballot. In the process, they changed the playing field in a fight for a U.S. Senate seat that their party needs to pick up if they want to take control of Congress. But, the shift might not be in their favor.

Flint Hills Begins Shutting Down Fairbanks Refinery

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Officials with Flint Hills Resources-Alaska began shutting down the company’s North Pole refinery on Thursday.

Project To Restore Herring, Starting In Sitka

Emily Forman, KCAW – Sitka

Before statehood and the advent of scientific management, Southeast Alaska’s herring populations were harvested – and depleted – without much thought for the future. Many believe the herring population in Sitka Sound now is a fraction of what it was in those days, and wonder if herring stocks – like salmon – can be restored.

Peggy Wilson Ending Long Legislative Career

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

One of Southeast’s longest-serving lawmakers is retiring. Peggy Wilson says she will not seek re-election to her Wrangell-based House district.

Historical Photo Collection Being Made Available Online

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

In 1987 the American Museum of Natural History sent a team of anthropologists to the Pacific Northwest and Siberia. Six years later, they had confirmed the theory that humans migrated across the Bering land bridge. And they brought back thousands of photographs – many of which are now available online for the first time.

Categories: Alaska News

Policy Change Could Could Create “Indian Country” in Alaska

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:35

The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed a rule change that would allow Alaska tribes to ask the federal government to take their lands into trust. The request isn’t always granted, but Wednesday’s announcement is a legal turn that could vastly expand the recognition and authority of tribal sovereignty in Alaska.

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Categories: Alaska News

Sikuliaq Research Vessel Nears Completion

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:34

The National Science Foundation’s new Arctic research vessel Sikuliaq is nearing completion. The $200 million project has experienced delays, but final work is taking place at a Wisconsin shipyard.

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Categories: Alaska News

13,000 Alaskans Enrolled With Healthcare.gov

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:33

About 13,000 Alaskans signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period that closed March 31st. The two insurers offering plans on the exchange in Alaska shared their enrollment figures today with APRN. Moda Health says it has about 7700 healthcare.gov enrollees in Alaska and the company is still processing some additional sign ups.

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Premera Alaska enrolled 5300 people on the exchange. Before the troubled launch of healthcare.gov, the company had hoped for more customers. But Premera spokesperson Melanie Coon is satisfied with the numbers:

“I think we readjusted our expectations. We’re very pleased with how enrollment went, based on the slow start to the exchange and… the last minute changes that were made where people could extend.”

Both companies are also reporting substantial enrollment off the federal exchange. 2000 Premera customers opted to enroll directly. And 700 people bypassed the federal website to sign up with Moda Health. The insurance plans are the same on and off the exchange. But subsidies are only available on the exchange.

This story is part of a partnership between APRN, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Categories: Alaska News

Skagway Ferry Dock Is Floating Again

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:32

Western Marine Construction began working early Tuesday to refloat the dock. (Photo courtesy Jeremy Stephens, Alaska DOT&PF)

The Skagway ferry dock is floating again after a contractor hired by the state brought the sunken dock to the surface. But it’s still not ready to host Alaska Marine Highway ferries.

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Western Marine Construction of Juneau began working at low tide Tuesday to pump water out of the chambers that float the dock.

State transportation department spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says all 24 chambers were flooded. He says it’s still not clear why.

Skagway city officials think a potable water pipe that runs from the ferry terminal to the dock and underneath may have burst, but Woodrow says the state is not yet ready to declare that as the official cause.

He says DOT engineers are inspecting the dock and divers will exam the structure underwater structure.

Early estimates indicate repairs may run around $400,000. Woodrow says passenger ramp, electrical system and vehicle ramp hydraulic system repairs are underway, and other work will likely need to be done.

Ferry service has been suspended to Skagway until at least May 9th.

Categories: Alaska News

Sexual Abuse Prevention Bill Falls Through The Cracks

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:31

Erin Merryn, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, testified in the House Education Committee on House Bill 233, also known as Erin’s Law. Rep. Geran Tarr is the bill sponsor. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

A bill requiring school districts to implement sexual abuse education seemed poised to become law during the recent Alaska Legislature. Gov. Sean Parnell supported Erin’s Law, the Senate passed it, and the House version had 21 co-sponsors.

But House Bill 233 got stuck in committee.

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House Finance Committee co-chair Bill Stoltze says he’s not sure why Erin’s Law didn’t get heard in his committee. He calls it “a casualty of a hectic session.”

“I guess I’ll call it falling through the cracks because it wasn’t one that I had any animus toward or any interest– I was dealing with so many crime bills and I don’t know how that one slipped through. I can’t even tell you much of the content of it because I didn’t really look at it,” Stoltze says.

HB 233 unanimously passed the House Education committee at the end of March and went on to House Finance. House Speaker Mike Chenault says he doesn’t recall why he referred it there since the bill had no fiscal note.

Chenault was the last of 21 representatives to sign on to co-sponsor the bill. He doesn’t know why it was held up.

“Sometimes it’s inner turmoil. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. Sometimes it’s somebody doesn’t like it. If it ever got to the floor, it probably would’ve passed,” Chenault says.

Of the roughly 380 bills introduced on the House side, Chenault says only 68 House Bills passed this year.

“People were concentrating on the big issues that affected the state versus other issues that didn’t quite get to the top of the pot,” he says.

Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr, who introduced Erin’s Law, says teaching kids to speak up when someone touches them inappropriately is a big issue for the state.

“This is a transformational legacy type of legislation where 10, 20 years down the line you’ve made a difference in the lives of thousands of Alaskans and we should’ve done it this year,” Tarr says.

She says she was shocked and embarrassed the bill died.

“We could’ve done the right thing and given kids a voice on a very important issue. That effort will be delayed by at least a year now. We’ll come back and we’ll be ready to work on it again next year. The sad news is there are kids that need the information now,” Tarr says.

Erin’s Law is named after 29-year-old Erin Merryn from Illinois, who was sexually abused as a child. Merryn travels around the country advocating for sexual abuse education in schools.

She spent a week in Alaska in March. She talked to lawmakers, testified on the bill, and participated in the governor’s annual Choose Respect rally.

Merryn wonders why the bill died, especially since it had support from both sides of the aisle. While the House version of the bill was sponsored by a Democrat, the Senate’s version was carried by Republican Senator Lesil McGuire.

“It’s a bipartisan issue. I’m not sitting here arguing abortion or death penalty. I’m arguing protecting kids. And the only ones who should be against this bill are the ones that have something to hide, the perpetrators themselves,” Merryn says.

Erin’s Law has passed in 12 states. Most recently, Merryn testified in Rhode Island, and will soon take her campaign to Canada, then to Australia.

But she says she’s not done in Alaska.

“I’m not going away. You can vote this down all you want. I’m going to continue to come back and pound on your doors and get others to support this bill until you pass it,” Merryn says.

The Alaska Legislature declared April Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to the resolution, one in four girls and one in six boys will report being victims of sexual assault. Speaking out against sexual assault is an important first step toward eliminating the crime.

Categories: Alaska News

Gubernatorial Candidates Answer Student Questions

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:30

2014 Gubernatorial candidates answer questions formulated by Anchorage middle schoolers on April 30, 2014. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Middle schoolers from across Anchorage had a chance to hear from Gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday about a variety of issues the state is facing.

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Over 100 students representing all of the Anchorage School District’s middle schools gathered in the lobby of the Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre.

While they were waiting for the forum to begin, students and teachers munched on Moose’s Tooth Pizza while mingling with Gubernatorial candidates Byron Mallott, Bill Walker, and current Governor Sean Parnell.

Once the pizza was finished, everyone filed into the auditorium to hear the candidates respond to a number of questions generated by students and teachers, who worked together to research topics they thought Alaska’s next governor needs to address.

Governor Sean Parnell, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks with students prior to the AARP-sponsored candidate forum on April 30, 2014. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

“Our question is, do you think Alaskans should be required to show a photo ID to vote? Why or why not?” Robert King, an 8th grader at Clark Middle School, said.

When the candidates addressed the question during the forum, they answered with a unanimous “no” – primarily because it would limit Alaskan’s ability to vote…especially in rural communities.

Corin Kotzke is an 8th grader at Romig Middle School. He was particularly interested in the candidates’ responses to education-related questions.

“I would like to see another increase in the base student allocation and more stability for the jobs of teacher so teachers don’t have to be worrying about retirement and class sizes will be reduced so there can be more 1-on-1 working with teachers and students,” Kotzke said.

All of the candidates said they are in favor of improving Alaska’s education system.

Republican candidate Governor Sean Parnell says education funding has increased substantially since he has been in office.

Independent candidate Bill Walker says the best way to increase education funding is for the state to generate more revenue with more resource development.

And Democratic candidate Byron Mallott says education must be funded fully… and create certainty for students, teachers and administrators.

But Romig 8th grader Aaron Jenkins wasn’t satisfied with those answers. He wanted more specifics from the candidates

“I was hoping to hear some of the 7th period that they are proposing for high schools next year,” Jenkins said. “Yeah, they did talk about their plans to increase the budget for schools, but not their plans for the schools themselves – which I would have liked to hear.”

Other topics ranged from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in Alaska, to the growth of Alaska’s economy, and how to strike a balance between new construction and maintaining existing infrastructure.

Byron Mallott – the Democratic candidate – was happy with the forum’s turnout. And he says it’s important that adults work to get young people interested and involved in the political process.

“In many ways, Alaska is a vast land, but it’s a small community,” Mallott said. “And children influence every aspect of our lives; they should be our highest priority.”

The forum was organized by AARP Alaska and moderated by Andrew Halcro, of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and Jeannine English, the incoming AARP National President.

Categories: Alaska News

Crews Set Up Denali Base Camp

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:29

Thursday marks the unofficial beginning of climbing season on Denali, when base camp gets set up for the thousand-plus climbers that will make an attempt to summit North America’s highest peak.

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For a few months each year, one of the busiest “airports” in Alaska isn’t technically an airport at all.  It’s Denali base camp on the Kahiltna Glacier.  The vast majority of climbers fly in from Talkeetna to the camp at just over 7,000 feet to start their trek.  On arrival, climbers are met by base camp manager Lisa Roderick.  She says her job on the mountain involves wearing multiple hats.  One of her regular tasks is calling the air services in town with current weather conditions in the Alaska Range.

“They love having a person up there that can tell them what the ever-changing conditions are doing.  As climbers fly in, I help unload the planes and just facilitate getting the planes moving and keeping things running smooth.  As the climbers are done climbing the mountain, I call there air service and get their flight out…”

Lisa Roderick doesn’t work for the National Park Service.  Instead, she works for the air services in Talkeetna whose job it is to ferry climbers back and forth to Denali.  She keeps cards for each climbing group that tells who they are, what air service they flew in with, and what languages they speak.  Many of those cards do not list “English,” so Lisa sometimes has to improvise her communication.

“There’s a lot of sign language with some of the climbers who don’t speak English.  It just works out, you point to an airplane and say, ‘Take your stuff over there.’  People want to get home so bad that they’re packed and ready and waiting for their plane ninety-percent of the time, so I don’t have to do too much.”

On Wednesday, Lisa Roderick was busy arranging gear and consulting her checklist.  Unlike climbers, whose supplies are centered around getting up and down the mountain, her gear involves communications equipment and long-term shelter, which comes with a lot of baggage.

“Basically, it’s just making sure I have all the equipment I need up there.  I have solar panels that charge four marine batteries, so [I] make sure I have all the equipment in tip-top shape.  I have a bunch of radios that I use up there–just putting everything into a big pile to be loaded into airplanes for tomorrow.”

While some climbers have begun their treks already, twelve as of Wednesday, most won’t arrive until mid-May or later.  The heart of climbing season in May and June is when base camp earns the nickname, “Kahiltna International Airport.”  For nearly all of those climbers, one of the first and last faces they see on their Denali expedition will be Lisa Roderick’s.

Categories: Alaska News

‘Arctic Sun: Fulfilling The Dream’ Chronicles Family’s Wilderness Adventures

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:28

A documentary showing statewide on 360 North this evening, chronicles the wilderness adventures of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons.

Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream is the story of Jean, her husband Tom and their son Luke as they spend a year in the Brooks Range, out of contact and building their own cabin. When she was in her 20s, Jean went into the arctic with her first husband, living off the land for four years.

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Categories: Alaska News

UAA Students Cope With Finals Week

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:27

It’s finals week at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and that means many students are crunching a very large amount of work into a very short amount of time. An Anchorage woman has found a creative way to help students beat the stress of the week.

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Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 30, 2014

Wed, 2014-04-30 17:07

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Proposed Rule Change Could Allow Alaska Tribal Land Trusts

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed a rule change that would allow Alaska tribes to ask the federal government to take their lands into trust. The request isn’t always granted, but Wednesday’s announcement is a legal turn that could vastly expand the recognition and authority of tribal sovereignty in Alaska.

Sikuliaq Research Vessel Nears Completion

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The National Science Foundation’s new Arctic research vessel Sikuliaq is nearing completion. The $200 million project has experienced delays, but final work is taking place at a Wisconsin shipyard.

13,000 Alaskans Enrolled With Healthcare.gov

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

About 13,000 Alaskans signed up for health insurance on healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period that closed March 31. The two insurers offering plans on the exchange in Alaska shared their enrollment figures today with APRN. Moda Health says it has about 7,700 healthcare.gov enrollees in Alaska and the company is still processing some additional sign ups.

Skagway Ferry Dock Is Floating Again

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

The Skagway ferry dock is floating again after a contractor hired by the state brought the sunken dock to the surface. But it’s still not ready to host Alaska Marine Highway ferries.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Bill Falls Through The Cracks

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

A bill requiring school districts to implement sexual abuse education seemed poised to become law during the recent Alaska legislative session. Governor Sean Parnell supported Erin’s Law, the Senate passed it, and the House version had 21 co-sponsors. But, House Bill 233 got stuck in Finance.

Gubernatorial Candidates Answer Student Questions

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Middle schoolers from across Anchorage had a chance to hear from Gubernatorial candidates on Wednesday about a variety of issues the state is facing.

Crews Set Up Denali Base Camp

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Thursday marks the unofficial beginning of climbing season on Denali, when base camp gets set up for the thousand-plus climbers that will make an attempt to summit North America’s highest peak.

‘Arctic Sun: Fulfilling The Dream’ Chronicles Family’s Wilderness Adventures

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A documentary showing statewide on 360 North this evening, chronicles the wilderness adventures of Jean Aspen and Tom Irons.

Arctic Son: Fulfilling the Dream is the story of Jean, her husband Tom and their son Luke as they spend a year in the Brooks Range, out of contact and building their own cabin. When she was in her 20s, Jean went into the arctic with her first husband, living off the land for four years.

UAA Students Cope With Finals Week

Jolene Almendarez, APRN – Anchorage

It’s finals week at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and that means many students are crunching a very large amount of work into a very short amount of time. An Anchorage woman has found a creative way to help students beat the stress of the week.

Categories: Alaska News

Gov. Parnell Says He Took Immediate Action On Sexual Assault Allegations

Tue, 2014-04-29 17:25

Governor Sean Parnell is defending his decision to wait four years to request a federal investigation into reports of a sexual assault problem in the Alaska National Guard. Anchorage Daily News columnist Shannyn Moore wrote Sunday that Parnell first learned about misconduct in the Guard in 2010, when he was approached by three guard chaplains. Parnell says he took those charges seriously, but lacked the details to prompt an investigation until February.

Governor Sean Parnell discusses his proposed FY15 budget. Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage.

He says after the initial concerns were raised, he went to Major General Thomas Katkus to make sure the systems were in place to protect guard members. Then in February, Parnell says he was able to talk with a guard member who provided specifics.

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Based on what you’ve heard from victims and others, how big of a problem do you think sexual assault is in the National Guard?

I think one allegation is too much and I take every allegation seriously, because I am concerned about Alaskans who suffer from sexual assault and violence. It’s been a core part of who I am fighting for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. So, I take every assault allegation seriously. So, in 2010 when the chaplains first came to speak with me and they made allegations that sexual assault was occurring on Guard members I questioned them and asked for detail, and they could not provide it because they were under duty of confidentiality to the people they counseled, but immediately after that I took action and went right to the Guard, to the general, and asked him to talk to me about what he knew of sexual assaults occurring in the Guard. And he went through the cases that had been filed at that time; spoke about how any cases that involved allegations of criminal activity, as in sexual assault, are not only investigated but they are also referred to local law enforcement – like the Anchorage Police Department. And I made sure that for the safety of the victims and any future victims in the Guard that there was, and is, a reporting process that’s safe for anybody in the Guard to utilize; that there’s an investigation process that is complete and accurate and directed that appropriate penalties be assessed. Now, that’s outside the criminal context, but the criminal context goes directly to law enforcement. I had only those general allegations of sexual assault, but I still took action to make sure that there was a system in place that works for victims of sexual assault.

Those general allegations persisted but they were the same allegations about events that occurred years ago. And then on Feb. 26th, Senator Dyson, came to me and said he had specific detail. Before when he spoke to me he had general allegations and he asked me to call a guard member who would provide me with specific detail about how the system wasn’t working. I made that contact within 24 hours of Sen. Dyson’s [call], personally spoke with a Guard member. That Guard member provided me with two instances where, if the allegations were substantiated, that the system would have failed our Guard member. And at that point, I realized I needed to get an independent assessment of the entire reporting and investigation structure. So I called in the National Guard Bureau, they have a complex investigation review team – I did that within 24 hours and that team is on the ground now in Alaska, doing their work to make sure that victims are safe.

Some people will think why was it four years? In hindsight do you wish you would have come forward four years ago, what do you think could have been done differently?

At the time I took immediate action to make sure that every victim of a sexual assault had been referred to law enforcement. I made sure that anyone who had concerns  about what was happening in the Guard had a safe reporting structure, but without specific detail about how the system was otherwise failing, that’s all I could do, is what I believed. And still believe that. But, on the other hand, once I got specific information about how the structure was actually failing, in other words the who, what, where, when why – the same thing you reporters ask – even though I pressed for that earlier and nobody could or would provide me with that, the second I got that kind of information I took immediate action with the National Guard Bureau to get them in there and get an independent look at what was happening.

Talk more about the specifics? What exactly were you needing for you to have that ability to actually ask for an investigation?

So, 4 years ago I was told there is a problem with sexual assault in the Guard. That is the sum and substance of what I was given. When I went to Guard leadership to inquire about that they said that yes they had specific instances where sexual assaults had been reported, that those had been referred to law enforcement for investigation, like the Anchorage Police Department. And they also detailed the reporting structure for any kind of alleged malfeasance in the Guard that was in place. And I had detailed for me, here’s the list of cases that are pending; here’s the list of cases that have been resolved in the past. But when it came specifically to the sexual assaults, when that kind of criminal activity was brought forward, that went immediately, as I was told, to law enforcement, which I think is appropriate.

One of the problems with sexual assault cases is there often isn’t enough information and it’s very difficult for victims to come forward. Did you consider that when you decided not to pursue an investigation earlier? What would you say to a victim of sexual assault about the statement that you didn’t have enough specifics? Do you think that’s enough of an answer for someone?

What I did is an internal state investigation. Meaning, I went in, my office went in and we made leadership tell us exactly what they were doing to protect sexual assault victims. When I had an actual specific set of facts related to how the system had failed, or – in this case – was alleged to fail, I asked the National Guard Bureau, as an independent assessing body, to come in and look at what I had been told and also look at the entire system to make sure we protect our guard members.

The Choose Respect campaign has been a big focus for you. Are you concerned this will damage the momentum or image you’re hoping to get across to Alaskans about coming forward when these things happen?

Well, absolutely. Anyone who knows me would say I care deeply about victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. And I’m more concerned than anything that victims may not come forward.  Because I know from speaking with many across the state how difficult that already is, and I don’t want to make that more difficult. That’s why I launched the immediate investigation, even when I had the barest of details, and now that I have specific details, I’ve called in the National Guard Bureau to help because I think it’s beyond us at this point.

When do you expect the investigation to conclude, when will you have a report and will you commit to releasing that report publicly?

I already have. I have made that commitment. The review team from the National Guard Bureau let me know they would be on the ground, in Alaska in the month of May. They said that it would take several months after that to complete the report and make that available to me. I already committed to making that report public, with the exception of any confidential victim information that should not be put forward, because I do want to protect the privacy of the victims. So, that’s been my commitment and remains so.

You’re still standing behind General Katkus. Do you have confidence in him? Do you wish he would have come to you sooner?

General Katkus has been very forthright. When I started asking questions about sexual assault cases, he came forward right away, showed me the cases that had been transferred to law enforcement, showed me how they have tracked cases, detailed how they investigate cases. And he’s been very proactive about holding what the Guard calls “sensing sessions,” meaning going into guard units and informing people about how to report acts of sexual harassment, acts of sexual violence. So General Katkus has been very proactive in that regard, and that’s what I know at this point.

Do you think he could have done more within the Guard itself to make sure this behavior was not at all tolerated?

From what I know now, the answer is no. But again, I’ve asked the National Guard Bureau to come have that independent look to make sure our Guard members are safe. General Katkus has told me at every turn that’s his desire and mission, he understands it, gets it and he has the systems in place that demonstrate that. I have asked the National Guard Bureau to make sure that those systems truly work for victims because we care deeply, and I care deeply, about protecting Alaskans.

Did you talk to anyone beyond General Katkus about the chaplains’ concerns?

Yes, in fact, our office talked with numerous Guard members. All of which had the same general allegations. There was one victim who came forward and spoke with a member of my office. Her case was also being investigated by Anchorage Policed Department at that point in time, so the answer is yes, we spoke with a number of people.

Mike Nizich-yYour chief of staff- was using his personal e-mail account to correspond about this issue. Why was that?

I spoke with Mr. Nizich and understand that was at the request of the chaplains who wanted to go outside the official channels. However, I’ve asked Mr.  Nizich to check his personal e-mail for that and his recollection is that it’s one email. I’ve asked him to check for that and move it to the state account, which is protocol to follow. And that will be a part of the public record at that point.

McHugh Pierre was asking questions. Who asked him to have the chaplains sign confidentiality statements?

I don’t know that but I do have a copy of what he apparently asked to be signed. It’s a statement that was emailed to all Department of Military and Veterans Affairs employees. It says employees aren’t authorized to give statements on behalf of department without first coordinating the request with one’s supervisor, which is standard operating policy in any department or any business that you don’t speak for the business, you don’t speak for the department. without first coordinating it with your supervisor.

He also spoke with people on base about wanting to know how information was getting out. It almost feels a bit like a witch hunt. Does that concern you that oftentimes it takes people acting outside of the normal channels to get this information out and at the end of the day, that’s the main mission, is it not?

Well that’s true and that’s why I asked these questions. Again, there’s nothing that stops the employee, as long as they’re not speaking on behalf of the department. In other words they’re speaking as a person, as an Alaskan who’s concerned, that’s not what this statement addresses though.

But the chaplains weren’t’ saying they were speaking for the department, they were raising concerns about people who were alleging sexual assault.

And I don’t condone the activity you just described. I do, on the other hand, understand when supervisors are asking their employees not to represent the department in certain things. In this case, I don’t have all the facts, but I don’t condone trying to stop what you’re describing.

So you’re saying you wouldn’t condone McHugh Pierre asking them to be quiet?

No. But again, I don’t have evidence is that’s what he did. What I evidence is that he asked them not to speak on behalf of the department without coordinating that with a supervisor.

What have you taken away from this process? Do you think there are changes that need to be made? Are you frustrated by the process are there things that need to be done differently?

I am frustrated when Alaskans in the Guard don’t feel like they are protected; that’s entirely frustrating. And it’s frustrating to me when I don’t have enough information to take action beyond what I did. In other words, I took action, I made sure that the systems were in place to protect Guard members; and that the people were in place, like an independent investigator – a safe route for people to report, but until the end of February, until then I didn’t have verified facts that alerted me I needed to bring the National Guard Bureau in. So, I do get frustrated when Alaskans are reporting harm and are continuing to report harm, even though, from all appearances, the system is in place and the checks and balances are in place to assure their safety – including referrals to law enforcement agencies.  So if indeed we find there is wrongdoing, I ‘ll take steps to punish that and make it right, there’s no question about that.

Categories: Alaska News

Chamber comes out anti-Begich. That’s the U.S. Chamber

Tue, 2014-04-29 17:24

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the latest Outside group to launch campaign ads in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race. The national business lobby has a 30-second video spot running this week that hits Sen. Mark Begich and supports one of his Republican challengers, former Attorney General Dan Sullivan.

Anchorage Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Halcro immediately issued a statement to say the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a separate organization.

“We just wanted to notify our members that these ads, which are identified as produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have no affiliation with the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce,” Halcro said.

Likewise, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce says it doesn’t endorse federal candidates. The Alaska Chamber, though, IS a member of the U.S. Chamber. President Rachael Petro says the U.S. group notified her of the ad but says the Alaska Chamber had no input.

“We just have no opinion on this topic and we have nothing to do with those ads,” Petro said.

The  ad includes footage of a sunrise or sunset that appears to be shot in Alaska, although, oddly, the speeded-up video shows a sun moving the wrong way through sky –from the right side of the frame to the left.

Sullivan’s older brother, Frank Sullivan, who runs the Ohio company that makes Rust-Oleum and other coatings, sits on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber.

Watch the video here.

Categories: Alaska News

Prudhoe Bay Flowline Springs Leak, Sprays Oil

Tue, 2014-04-29 17:23

Source of spill, April 29, 2014 (Photo/Sartz-ADEC)

A flowline to a well operated by BP at Prudhoe Bay leaked on Monday. Before the spill was under control high winds resulted in a spray of natural gas, crude oil and water that covers an area of tundra larger than 20 football fields.

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According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, operators with BP were working at a well, when a flowline leaking.  Ashley Adamczak is an Environmental Program Specialist with DEC.  She says 30-mile-an-hour winds on the North Slope sprayed leaking natural gas, water and crude oil across an estimated 27 acres of snow-covered tundra.

“What has not been delineated at this time is the part that has been moderately or lightly misted,” Adamczak said.

The leak was isolated roughly two hours after it began. With temperatures still below freezing on the North Slope, Adamczak says the entire well pad has been shut down in order to protect other wells from freezing or leaking.

“There [are] millions of miles of pipe and thousands of wells on the North Slope, then spills do happen,” Adamczak said. “Fortunately, we don’t get a lot of these spills coming through, but I can’t say that this is the first time that a spill like this has occurred.”

It’s still unclear how many gallons of gas, oil and water have spread across the tundra. Adamczak says cleanup will be challenging.

“Due to the fact that a lot of it was spilled to tundra, they have to go out there with less aggressive means, so that they don’t actually make the response activities cause more of an impact than the spill did, so a lot of the cleanup will probably be done with hand tools and that’s a lot of area to address with hand tools at these temperatures,” Adamczak said.

DEC is working with the North Slope Borough, BP Exploration and the Environmental Protection agency to respond to the incident.  There’s no estimate on how long it will take, but Adamczak says the agencies hope to complete cleanup before migrating geese start to arrive on the North Slope.

Categories: Alaska News
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