Alaska Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

House approves meth lab bill

JUNEAU - The state House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday aimed at curbing the production of methamphetamine in Alaska.

But some lawmakers voiced concerns over a provision in the bill by Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, requiring individuals purchasing the over-the-counter medicine such as Sudafed to show identification and sign a logbook.

Ramras says Sudafed, Actifed and other over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine, can be used to make methamphetamine, a powerful illegal stimulant made from household products.

The logbooks would allow law enforcement officials to identify those purchasing large quantities of such legal drugs, Ramras said.

Calling methamphetamine a "scourge on the community," Ramras said the drug is highly addictive and poorly understood by the public.

The bill also would make it a crime of manslaughter for making methamphetamine that is distributed and results in a death. Those who sell the over-the-counter drugs such as Sudafed would have to keep records for three years of its sales or face fines of up to $10,000.

The bill also would make possession of small amounts of steroids without a prescription a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. There currently is no state law prohibiting such possession.

Corrosion blamed for Kuparuk spill

ANCHORAGE - Pipeline corrosion was the cause of an oily water spill in the Kuparuk oil field, officials said.

The spill, discovered March 26, released an estimated 111,300 gallons of salty and oily water, ranking it as the third largest industrial spill ever recorded in the North Slope oil fields.

The spill was traced to corrosion in a six-inch pipeline that was carrying water to a drill site on the western side of Kuparuk, according to officials with ConocoPhillips and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Corrosion has been the cause of many North Slope spills.

UA seeks settlement with project contractor

FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska is trying to resolve payment delays between the contractor overseeing the Fairbanks museum expansion project and subcontractors working on the $42 million job.

Alaska Mechanical Inc. is contractually bound to pay subcontractors within eight days of payment by the university, Kathleen Schedler, a University of Alaska Fairbanks official noted in a letter to the company.

Timely payments have not been made, according to a half-dozen companies working on the renovation and construction of the UA Museum of the North.

Russ Schwartz, vice president of AMI, blamed the late payments on university officials. He said they are responsible for the museum's current status. The project, almost a year behind schedule, has suffered a number of delays and changes.

Those alterations in plans have changed the scope and cost of construction, Schwartz said.

"The fact is that we have presented for payment over $4 million worth of changes and been paid for $2.1 million," he said. "Had we been paid for what we've presented, we wouldn't have these issues."

Schwartz has been advancing money to subcontractors in anticipation of eventual payment by the university, a business practice he said he's never employed.

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