State and local briefly

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2000

TV station shuts down Juneau bureau

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage television station has decided to pull the plug on its Juneau bureau, just days before the start of the legislative session.

KTVA Channel 11 is laying off its Juneau reporter and a part-time photographer. The station also let go a reporter in Anchorage and the host of ``Inside Alaska,'' a nightly half-hour feature show.

Robert Gottstein, KTVA's owner, said the four layoffs were part of a restructuring under way at the station he bought in March 1997. KTVA opened its Juneau bureau after Gottstein bought the station.

Gottstein said he planned to send reporters to Juneau periodically to cover the legislative session.

Crews remove contaminated snow

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Railroad crews worked over the weekend moving snow and drilling exploratory wells in efforts to find and clean up some jet fuel that spilled before Christmas in a derailment north of Talkeetna.

Ernie Piper, the railroad's assistant vice president for safety and environmental compliance, said 17 truckloads of contaminated snow were moved Saturday and another 17 loads were hauled away Sunday.

Crews need to move the snow to reach bare ground, where the fuel seeped through more quickly than anticipated.

Drilling was to begin today to determine how far and how deep the fuel has seeped into the ground. Crews will then use equipment to suck the fuel out, Piper said. Other workers will be removing damaged tank cars from the site by Tuesday, he said.

Three locomotives and 15 tank cars headed for Anchorage jumped the tracks in a remote area 36 miles north of Talkeetna on the morning of Dec. 22. The damaged tanks leaked an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 gallons of jet fuel.

The railroad's response to the spill has drawn some heat from state regulators. Crews didn't reach the spill site for two days, and workers didn't start removing the contaminated snow for another two weeks.

The spill occurred about 1,000 feet from the Susitna River. Officials want the fuel removed, or at least contained, before the spring thaw carries contaminants into ground water and the river.

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