Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

Oil tanker to dock in Juneau

JUNEAU - The first oil tanker ever to sail into Gastineau Channel will make a social call to Juneau this week.

At 941 feet long, the tanker will be hard to miss at its berth at the city's cruise ship terminal.

Billed by owner BP Exploration Alaska Inc. as the "world's newest, safest and most environmentally friendly and technology advanced oil tanker," the brand-new Alaskan Explorer is due in Juneau on Monday evening.

The vessel was built in San Diego. It's the second of four double-hulled tankers that BP is adding to its fleet through 2006, at a total cost of $1 billion.

The double-hulled tankers are faster and more efficient, reducing the cost of getting Alaska crude to market, according to BP.

During a visit that will end Wednesday morning, the 1.3 million-barrel tanker will berth at the city's cruise ship dock terminal.

"We're proud to own the first tanker to actually sail in Gastineau Channel," said Steve Marshall, president of BP Exploration.

The tanker is due in Valdez later in the week, where it will pick up its first cargo of North Slope crude oil.

The company said Friday it is restricting tours of the vessel in Juneau to invited guests from state and local government, as well as the media, for security and safety reasons.

"This is an opportunity for state and local policymakers and others in the capital city to get a first-hand look at one of our major investments in the future of BP's Alaskan business," Marshall said.

Court finds no discrimination

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Supreme Court found Friday that the state did not deliberately create a race-based law-enforcement system in rural areas, and it does not now allocate police resources to discriminate against predominantly Native communities.

The court concluded that the differences in the availability and quality of law enforcement between rural and urban Alaska are reasonably based on the problems encountered in serving those communities.

Villages had argued that the current Village Public Safety Officer program stems from a territorial race-based systems and is used to achieve a continuing objective of denying equal protection to Native villages.

The court rejected the claim that a segregated system "for providing law-enforcement services has existed in Alaska since the 1800s."

VPSOs are unarmed peace officers who are supervised by the Alaska State Troopers, but are employees of regional nonprofits. Most are Native and work in off-road villages where no regular troopers are assigned. They receive less training and are paid less than troopers.

Conviction stands

Anchorage - The Alaska Court of Appeals Friday upheld the felony drunken driving conviction of a Juneau man who alleged that police acted improperly in collecting the evidence for his arrest.

Dale Zwingelberg was sentenced to serve eight months in jail with another 12 months suspended, fined $10,000 and placed on probation for three years, stemming from the Feb. 1, 2003, incident. Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins also permanently revoked Zwingelberg's driver's license.

Zwingelberg's attorney appealed Collins' ruling against his motion to suppress evidence collected when he was arrested at his home.

According to the appeals judgment, police went to Zwingelberg's home after a liquor store sales clerk called to report an intoxicated man driving away. Zwingelberg didn't answer when police came to his door, but officers could see a figure slumped in a chair When his wife answered the door, she wouldn't let police in, although they said they would remain at the door until they talked to him.

When the woman eventually did let police in, Zwingelberg was behind the house, face down in the snow.

The appeals court agreed with Collins that police had probable cause for the arrest. It also found in an independent review that Zwingelberg's wife was not threatened or coerced into letting officers in.

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