State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2001

Goldbelt cruise ship hits rock

JUNEAU -- A 169-foot cruise ship owned by Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises struck a rock while making its way north to Alaska last week.

No passengers were aboard the Wilderness Discoverer at the time, said Brandie Ahlgren, director of marketing at the Seattle office of Glacier Bay Tours. The accident happened early Tuesday morning. Twenty-four crew were aboard, but no one was injured, she said.

On Friday afternoon, the Wilderness Discoverer was on its way to Alaska Ship and Dry Dock at Ketchikan, with a projected arrival Saturday afternoon.

"It was north of Vancouver Island when it brushed a rock, which caused minor damage to the back thruster," Ahlgren said Friday. "The ship is operational on its own, and was not taking on any water, but prior to its sailing on May 30 it will need some work."

Glacier Bay Tours & Cruises is a subsidiary of Goldbelt, Juneau's urban Native corporation. Last year the business generated more than $14 million in revenues from its four small cruise ships and the Glacier Bay Lodge. According to the May issue of Goldbelt's newsletter, the Wilderness Discoverer, its largest ship, just completed a $2.7 million upgrade, which improved its cabins, added some capacity and allowed it to carry kayaks and inflatables.

Two sick with PSP near Tenakee Springs

JUNEAU -- Two people became sick Thursday after eating clams collected near Tenakee Springs and required medical attention.

The clams are being tested for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, a serious illness caused by poisons that concentrate in clams, mussels, geoducks oysters, snails and scallops. PSP occurs within minutes to two hours after eating shellfish and can be fatal. Symptoms include tingling or a burning sensation in the lips, gums or tongue. More extreme symptoms include a dry mouth, nausea, vomiting or slurred speech.

The clams in question were collected from Iyoukeen Peninsula on Chichagof Island, which is on the west side of Chatham Straits near Tenakee Springs. Since the DEC doesn't test or certify any beaches in Southeast Alaska, the beaches are all considered unsafe. May to August is generally considered the most dangerous time for PSP, said Mike Jaenicke at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"Especially at this time of year, if people are taking (shellfish) it's really risky, I wouldn't recommend it to anybody," Jaenicke said. "You should never eat mussels around here because they're one of the hottest clams and butters are the second hottest."

The safest place to get shellfish is to buy it, because commercial shellfish come from tested beaches, said DEC Director of Environmental Health Janice Adair.

Midday low tides this Memorial Day weekend may draw many people to the beaches.

Court says legal aliens entitled to PFDs

ANCHORAGE -- Immigrant Alaskans who are in the United States legally may be entitled to a Permanent Fund dividend if they plan to remain here indefinitely and meet all the other requirements for the annual payout.

In an unanimous decision issued Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court said legal aliens do not need a so-called "green card" to get a dividend if their visas does not specifically bar them from staying in the United States indefinitely.

The ruling affects hundreds of immigrants waiting for the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service to process their applications for permanent residency, political asylum and refugee status. All illegal aliens and their children remain ineligible for dividends Stock said.

Some of the immigrant categories affected by the decision are those in Alaska on a "fiance visa," meaning people from another country to marry an American citizen. The decision also extends dividend eligibility to people here on several kinds of professional and business related visas, largely in the teaching, tourism, airline and oil businesses, Stock said.

It means the American-born children of legal immigrants who do not have a green card will be eligible, Stock said.

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