Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 19, 2007

Thane Road to be closed for two hours

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JUNEAU - If the weather permits, Thane Road will be closed from 10 a.m. to noon today while maintenance crews conduct avalanche control shoots on Mount Roberts.

Shots will be fired from the Treadwell Mine area across Gastineau Channel to the west slope of the mountain, the state Department of Transportation office announced.

Kodiak testing site to require cleanup

KODIAK - A former Navy testing site southeast of Kodiak City requires scrutiny and eventual cleanup, but buried chemicals and ammunition remnants there pose no immediate threat to users of a recreational trail there, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Burma Road, an unpaved trail between Bells Flats and the foot of Barometer Mountain, is among Kodiak sites assessed for potential hazards left over from testing during World War II. The corps began its Formerly Used Defense Sites program in the 1980s.

Through the program, a site inspection was conducted at the Burma Road site because the Kodiak Naval Operating Base tested, stored and disposed of ammunition on and near the trail. The FUDS inspection was conducted to determine if unexploded munitions and ammunition or chemical remnants remain, program chief Mollie TeVrucht said.

The area was divided into 25 sections, and tested using metal detectors and soil and groundwater sampling. The data was used to calculate risks.

Eleven of the sections require a closer look, said TeVrucht.

"There might be things left there that might blow up," she said.

The questionable sections are not on the road itself, although some are close to it, TeVrucht said.

Some sections showed traces of chemicals, which don't pose an immediate threat to trail users, she said.

The investigation will continue and eventually the potentially dangerous remnants will be removed.

2 men get 10 years on cocaine charges

ANCHORAGE - Two local men have been sentenced to the maximum term of 10 years each in prison for attempted possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline imposed the sentences on Tyler Bartholomew, 22, and Yaside Motley, 31, the U.S. attorney's office announced Thursday.

In June 2006, agents in Las Vegas, Nev., intercepted a UPS package bound for Anchorage and found that it contained about three kilograms of cocaine, the press release said.

They followed the package to Bartholomew and Motley in Anchorage and arrested them after they opened it, according to the federal attorney's office.

Sentencing took place on Wednesday.

Fish processor arrives at Aleutian Island port

ANCHORAGE - A fish processing vessel that lost its propulsion after an engine room fire was towed into an Aleutian Island fishing port Thursday afternoon.

The Seattle-based Stellar Sea, carrying a crew of 142, arrived at Dutch Harbor about 3:20 p.m., towed by two tug boats. Grinning crew members watched from the stern as the ship neared the dock.

None of the crew was injured in the fire that broke out on board the 316-foot vessel Tuesday night. The blaze was extinguished in about an hour, Coast Guard officials said.

The fire left the Stellar Sea without power or propulsion about 90 miles north of Dutch Harbor, 800 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The Coast Guard dispatched the cutter Mellon to assist the vessel. The cutter took the Stellar Sea under tow until the commercial tug boats finished the job.

With relatively calm seas, weather was not a problem, Petty Officer Eric Chandler said.

"The weather was extremely mild for this time of year," he said.

The boat was headed from Seattle to tiny St. Paul Island, 275 miles north of the Aleutian chain.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Rita Davis, the foreman on the Stellar Sea, said that even though there were no injuries, people on board did have to take emergency precautions.

"We had to don our survival suits, but our crew and engineers and everyone on board were able to contain the fire," she said.

The Coast Guard's local marine safety detachment planned to examine the vessel Thursday evening and conduct mandatory drug and alcohol testing on the crew.

With the Stellar Sea sidelined, the Bering Sea seafood industry faces an uncertain season - particularly in the opilio crab harvest.

"If they can turn it around in two weeks, I don't think it's going to have any major impact," seafood analyst John Sackton said. "But if it's out for longer than that, that will have an impact, and there will have to be some adjustment."

The vessel is under contract with Seattle-based processor Peter Pan Seafoods and was supposed to process most of the crab from the northern area of the fishery this year. Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp. has a floating processor working in the Bering Sea, but that vessel is currently processing cod.

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