State briefs

Posted: Sunday, June 09, 2002

NTSB: Trooper plane ran out of fuel

ANCHORAGE - An Alaska Fish and Wildlife Protection Trooper apparently ran out of gas before his plane crashed a year ago, federal investigators say.

Trooper James Moen was killed in the crash June 25, 2001.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board said Moen was using only one fuel tank on the Super Cub and ran out of fuel.

Moen, who was stationed in McGrath, was assigned a Piper Super Cub with wheels but had to fly another Super Cub, this one with floats, for a fishing patrol around Iliamna.

The floatplane had a newer, safer fuel system that allows a pilot to fly using both wing-mounted fuel tanks. Planes with the old system can be flown using only one tank at a time.

An NTSB investigator examining the wreckage found the fuel selector switch set on "left."

Shortly after the crash, troopers hired an independent aviation safety expert to review their operations.

"We've adopted some policies and procedures he recommended to ensure we're not faced with this again," said Maj. James Cockrell, Fish and Wildlife Protection deputy director.

Fire damages home

JUNEAU - A house at 628 Basin Road downtown was about one-quarter damaged by a fire Saturday afternoon, but it's still structurally sound, fire officials said. No one was injured. The cause is under investigation, officials said.

The fire was confined to one room on the first floor, and it traveled up the wall to the attic, said Capt. Ed Quinto of Capital City Fire and Rescue. There's heavy smoke damage throughout the house, he added.

About 28 firefighters responded to scene shortly after 1 p.m.

"Our first attack team encountered heavy smoke and fire on the first floor and proceeded to extinguish" the fire, Quinto said. A second team put out the fire in the attic.

Knowles signs bill aimed at court cases

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law Friday a bill that would undo a unanimous Alaska Supreme Court decision on permitting requirements for oil drilling wastes in Cook Inlet.

The new law also would exempt firing ranges from state waste disposal permitting requirements.

The measure was a response to two separate lawsuits filed by environmental groups. It was sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault, a North Pole Republican.

The court ruled unanimously in May that state regulators erred when they decided to allow the discharge of drilling mud and rock cuttings from Forest Oil's Osprey Platform in Cook Inlet under a general discharge permit issued by the federal government. The court ruled that state law required a project-specific review.

Knowles said that decision could jeopardize oil and gas permits as well as other resource development activities.

The new law also would undercut a federal lawsuit filed by environmental groups and the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council to have the military stop using the 2,500-acre Eagle River Flats firing range at Fort Richardson and clean up unexploded munitions on the range.

Therriault's bill exempts all active firing ranges from state requirements for a waste disposal permit.

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