Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Friday, August 11, 2006

State warns parents about toys with lead

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JUNEAU - Bendable dog and cat toys given away at public libraries this summer may contain unsafe levels of lead, according to state health officials in the Department of Health and Social Services.

The department issued a consumer health alert regarding the toys, which were distributed as part of a statewide summer reading program at public libraries throughout Alaska, and in at least 30 other states nationwide.

The rubbery toys, in various colors, are roughly 4 inches long, with round heads and long bendable arms and legs. They are stamped with "Made in China" on the back of the head, and "China" on the back of the body.

In recent tests run on three of these toys, lead levels ranged from 0.24 to 0.4 percent, compared to the federal limit of 0.06 percent of the weight of the paint applied to a toy.

State public health officials advise parents whose children have the toys to return them to the library where they were obtained. Local libraries will either return the toys to Highsmith Inc. or send them to a central collection facility for safe disposal.

For more information on the hazards of lead, visit or, or call the Environmental Public Health program in the Alaska Division of Public Health at (907) 269-8000.

Trooper arrested for a third time

ANCHORAGE - An Alaska State Trooper has been arrested for the third time.

Clinton Songer is charged in the latest case with assaulting his ex-wife at a Cordova bar.

Songer, 30, was previously arrested twice for allegedly assaulting a former girlfriend. He was on administrative leave from his post in Wrangell when he was arrested Tuesday for allegedly pushing his ex-wife to the ground after she asked him to leave the bar, where she was having her birthday party Saturday night. The woman bruised her arm.

Songer, who is charged with two counts of assault, had been out on bail after charges in two separate cases involving an ex-girlfriend.

He is accused of forcing his way into the woman's Wrangell apartment in February and grabbing her by the neck. Songer also is accused of violating the conditions of his release by confronting her and then hitting her while she walked home from work several weeks later.

In those cases, he is charged with assault, criminal trespass, unlawful contact and violating the conditions of his release.

Investigation into illnesses continues

FORT WAINWRIGHT - The investigation into why 24 workers building a replacement hangar became ill continues at Fort Wainwright.

Work on the hangar stopped June 30, a day after workers uncovered materials that appeared to be petroleum and solvents.

One Bristol Construction worker was hospitalized June 29 when the equipment he was driving disturbed the contaminated soil. The next day, the same driver and two other workers experienced nausea and dizziness and were taken to the hospital, spokeswoman Linda Douglass said.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said 21 other employees have reported some type of symptoms, Douglass said.

Testing of the site has only identified organic materials that would not have caused the worker's symptoms, and no chemical-warfare materials or byproducts have been found, she said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is conducting another round of testing of the ground air this week. The base has closed a road within 150 feet the construction site until there is more information from the testing.

Work on the project will remain suspended until those tests are completed, Douglas said in a prepared statement. Results are expected back next week.

Base official said they don't yet know how the site became contaminated, but estimate the spill happened years ago.

The Army planned to hold meetings next week for the contractors and for post residents.

Repairs completed to railroad bridge

ANCHORAGE - Passenger and freight rail service between Anchorage and Fairbanks resumed Thursday after temporary repairs were completed on a damaged railroad bridge.

Service was disrupted Tuesday after a tractor-trailer struck the bridge about a quarter mile south of the Denali National Park and Preserve entrance.

Repairs were completed early Thursday morning, Alaska Railroad officials said.

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