Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Damaged plane classified as 'incident'

JUNEAU - The National Transportation Safety Board says an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 that was damaged in an "incident" Saturday, fell below the level considered an accident.

Clint Johnson, NTSB investigator in Anchorage, said the damage was isolated to a replaceable wingtip, and no one was injured. While the agency has looked into the matter, it isn't being considered an accident investigation.

He said the left wingtip was damaged while the plane, carrying 79 passengers, was taxiing from the terminal at Gustavus. The flight was canceled.

Sam Sperry, Alaska Airlines director of corporate communications in Seattle, said the wingtip could be replaced with a part available in Juneau. The part was flown to Gustavus the next day. Two mechanics who were on the plane were able to replace it.

Alaska Airlines diverted a flight running from Sitka to Juneau to Anchorage to pick up the Gustavus passengers later in the night, Sperry added.

Police confiscate smoke bomb from Costco

JUNEAU - Police removed a homemade smoke bomb from Costco on Tuesday afternoon, after the device was ignited in the store.

Officers from the police department and personnel from Capital City Fire and Rescue showed up at the Lemon Creek store at approximately 3 p.m. They were met by an employee, who led them to the bomb.

The store was evacuated until the device was neutralized.

Investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Juneau Police Department at 586-0600.

Park Service advises concessionaires after outbreak of virus

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - The National Park Service has sent a health advisory to concessionaires in all national parks after a gastrointestinal illness sickened 134 people at Yellowstone this summer.

The outbreak, blamed on a norovirus, occurred in June and early July and was concentrated at Old Faithful and Lake. Housekeepers and concession workers who live in dormitories were hit hardest.

The Park Service sent out advisories last week to concessionaires on how best to avoid spreading the virus.

The highly infectious virus was likely the same bug that has sickened hundreds on cruise ships and caused earlier outbreaks at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.

It attacks suddenly and while not typically life-threatening, it can make people very sick for one to two days.

Norovirus sickens an estimated 23 million people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is most commonly spread through eating contaminated food, touching contaminated surfaces and having direct contact with infected people.

Fire warnings lifted, wet weather continues

ANCHORAGE - Warnings of increased fire activity in Alaska's Interior were lifted Tuesday and wet weather was expected to slow the wildfires' spread the rest of the week.

Firefighters made progress Tuesday as winds the crews feared would feed the blazes never materialized, temperatures cooled and rain doused hot spots, said Rick Barton, a spokesman for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Red flag warnings issued Monday were lifted everywhere in the Interior but Tanana Flats and Deltana by Tuesday afternoon.

"Without the winds, on most of the fires the crews are finding smoldering, creeping fire behavior. It allows them to get close and mop up," Barton said.

Firefighters even began rehabilitating the wettest spots near the Boundary and Wolf Creek fires, he said.

The rehabilitation includes channeling water to prevent erosion, reseeding bald spots with native grasses and returning brush and trees to areas cleared for fire breaks.

"Now we are going to put it back in there to make it look natural," Barton said.

Residents evacuated by fire allowed to go home

ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Residents evacuated by a wildfire between Cle Elum and Ellensburg in central Washington were allowed to return home Tuesday after firefighters gained better control of the fire.

Firefighters expect to fully contain the 250-acre Lauderdale fire today. The fire broke out Sunday afternoon along Highway 97 about 6 miles east of Cle Elum near Lookout Mountain.

Residents evacuated from 27 homes in the area were allowed to return home Tuesday, said Dale Warriner, a fire information officer.

The fire destroyed two cabins, including a tin structure. About 300 firefighters were mopping up the fire Tuesday. Eighty were expected to be released today, Warriner said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Audit: Federal efforts to clean Hanford groundwater ineffective

YAKIMA, Wash. - The U.S. Department of Energy has not made significant progress in treating contaminated groundwater at the Hanford nuclear reservation, a federal audit released Tuesday concluded.

The Energy Department has estimated that 80 square miles of Hanford's groundwater were contaminated at levels exceeding state and federal drinking water standards during decades of plutonium production for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.

The study released by the Energy Department's inspector general reviewed the effectiveness of the agency's methods for treating the water. Those so-called pump-and-treat systems call for workers to pump contaminated water out of the ground, run it through filters to remove radioactive contaminants and re-inject the water into the ground.

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