Greenpeace activists board oil barge
BARROW -- A half-dozen environmental activists boarded a barge carrying oil drilling equipment early today in the Arctic Ocean to protest BP Amoco's exploration plans, Greenpeace said.
Their action forced the 420-foot barge and its tow to return to port at Barrow, about 175 miles west of Alaska's vast North Slope oil fields, said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell from Anchorage. ``We also contacted the North Slope Borough police and asked them to provide some assistance,'' Chappell said.
Two tugs were part of the tow. One of the tugs pulled up alongside the protesters while they were boarding the barge shortly after midnight, he said. ``The tug advised they were trespassing and that they were violating Coast Guard regulations,'' Chappell said. ``Basically, it's a police matter now.''
``We're still on it (the barge),'' said Greenpeace spokesman Dan Ritzman from Anchorage. ``We're waiting to see what the next step is.''
Greenpeace is protesting BP's Northstar offshore drilling platform, which is under construction off the north coast of Alaska in the Arctic Ocean.
Northstar would be the first offshore drilling operation in the Arctic Ocean, and Greenpeace maintains it would threaten the Arctic ecosystem.
Chappell said the Northstar project was the product of more than five years of engineering effort and environmental screening.
``It would not be going forward if it were not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, the North Slope Borough and the state of Alaska,'' he said. ``It will have minimal impact on the environment.''
Greenpeace wants BP to cancel the Northstar project and use the proceeds to fund solar power initiatives. It managed to get 13 percent of BP's shareholders to vote to stop the project in April.
Elderly tourist dies while on hike
JUNEAU -- A 73-year-old tourist died Friday while on a hike in Southeast Alaska.
The Coast Guard identified the man as James Fullerton of Long Lake, Minn. Fullerton was a passenger aboard the sightseeing vessel Observer.
According to the Coast Guard, the boat stopped at Phybus Bay, about 90 miles southwest of Juneau, and passengers ventured out on a day hike on Admiralty Island.
They say Fullerton collapsed during the hike and died, the Coast Guard said. A Coast Guard helicopter airlifted his body to Sitka.
Driver in six-death crash was drunk
FAIRBANKS -- The driver blamed for a July car crash on Chena Hot Springs Road that killed him and five other people had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, Alaska State Troopers said Saturday.
Jacky Moore, 39, of Fairbanks had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 percent, according to information provided to troopers by the state medical examiner's office. Drunken driving legally begins at 0.1 percent.
Moore and three others were in his Nissan pickup on July 2 when the vehicle crossed the center line and struck two other vehicles, one of them head-on.
Also killed in the Nissan were Fairbanks residents Harvey Grau Jr., 27, and Christy Simon, 29, and Kristine Fuit, 47, of Layton, Utah. All three passengers were also extremely intoxicated, troopers said.
Two Fort Wainwright soldiers -- driver Christopher McFadin, 21, and Bruno Guglielmi, 24 -- were killed in the head-on crash on the rain-slickened road. Traveling with them were their wives, who were seriously injured.
Bridge honors Alaska Native Veterans
NENANA --Alaska Native veterans now have a bridge dedicated in their honor.
Gov. Tony Knowles on Saturday named the bridge that crosses the Tanana River on the Parks Highway in Nenana as the Alaska Native Veterans Honor Bridge.
The bridge, which was built in 1967, had previously been unnamed. It has no military significance but was chosen for its size, beauty and location.
State Sen. Georgianna Lincoln sponsored the bill to name the bridge.
Gov. Knowles unveils jobs program
NENANA --Gov. Tony Knowles unveiled a jobs program Saturday designed to employ youths in areas hit hard by the western Alaska fisheries disaster.
The program, called Operation Renew Hope will provide jobs for young people age 14 through 21. They will work with the Alaska National Guard and nonprofit groups to learn job training skills.
In announcing the program during a visit to Nenana, Knowles said it will prepare young people for future employment and put money in their pockets.
The state Department of Labor is providing $20,000 for the program.
Knowles said he will unveil assistance programs for adults affected by the salmon disaster sometime this week.