Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, June 05, 2005

Police arrest suspected riflers

JUNEAU - Juneau police said two teenage boys entered about 17 vehicles downtown on Saturday morning.

Police cited a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy on a charge of underage drinking, and released them to their parents.

But police said they expect to file further charges once the owners of recovered property have been identified.

The police alleged that the boys entered vehicles between Calhoun and B streets near Ninth and 10th streets at about 5 a.m.

Police said they recovered property ranging from a car stereo to cigarettes. Police left notes on the vehicles they believe were entered. But police in a press release encouraged anyone who parked in the area to check their vehicles to see if any property is missing.

Ketchikan to vote on docks expansion

KETCHIKAN - Ketchikan residents will go to the polls in a special election this summer to decide whether the city should issue as much as $70 million in revenue bonds to expand cruise ship docks.

The Ketchikan City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the date of Aug. 16 for the election.

The council also decided to go with a $2.5 million bid from Peratrovich, Nottingham and Drage for port-expansion engineering services, rather than the city staff-recommended kpff Consulting Engineers, which submitted a $4.8 million bid.

The cruise line industry supported the selected bid, according to a letter from John Hansen of the North West CruiseShip Association. The lower bid would save the city and the cruise lines money, according to Hansen.

City officials recommended kpff over PND because of kpff's familiarity with the project and because PND had indicated costs could go up.

Rural nuclear power study is funded

JUNEAU - Galena officials' idea to bring nuclear power to the residents of their isolated Yukon River community took a step forward when the state Legislature approved $500,000 as part of the capital budget to study the plan.

City Manager Marvin Yoder said the state money will be used to conduct a series of 90-day studies to see if it could work.

Among the questions Galena and Toshiba Corp., the corporate backer developing the 10-megawatt plant, will attempt to answer are what would happen to the reactor core after its 30-year life, what the safety issues would be and what would be necessary to guard it, Yoder said.

Critics have said they were not sure how nuclear reactors would be affected by Alaska's extreme climate.

Because of Galena's inaccessibility and the necessity to ship diesel fuel by barge, residents pay from 20 cents to $1 per kilowatt hour, while the national average is less than 9 cents. With nuclear power, residents could pay a third of what they now pay to power their homes, Yoder said.

If it's feasible in Galena, nuclear power could be used to lower energy costs throughout rural Alaska, state lawmakers said.

Gov. Frank Murkowski's spokeswoman, Becky Hultberg, said he would not be inclined to veto the Galena study.

Group cites oil firms' big profits

ANCHORAGE - Oil companies made more than $5 billion in profits in 2004 and are looking at lucrative business again this year, an oil industry watchdog group says in a new report.

The analysis commissioned by the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council shows the oil industry has ample money to spend on maintaining or enhancing environmental safeguards.

The state also did well through oil taxes and royalties, according to the report, which put the state's take at $2.8 billion.

John Devens, the council's executive director, said the owners of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline have been talking of environmental cutbacks, so the Valdez-based group commissioned a study of their profits.

The council is a congressionally mandated nonprofit organization set up after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Most of its nearly $3 million annual budget comes from Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the Anchorage-based industry consortium that runs the 800-mile pipeline and Valdez tanker port.

Alyeska officials objected to the council spending $25,000 of the industry's money to hire Fairbanks analyst Richard Fineberg to prepare the profits study.

The report doesn't prove or settle anything, with oil prices running at record levels in recent months, industry representatives said Thursday.

BP isn't counting on the high prices and profits to continue forever, and it can't spend lavishly on any aspect of its business, said Daren Beaudo, spokesman for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., which operates the state's largest oil field at Prudhoe Bay. Alyeska, however, is getting enough money to fully protect the Sound, he said.

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