Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, September 07, 2007

SEACC offers expert to assist with mine plan

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JUNEAU - Southeast Alaska Conservation Council has offered mine operator Coeur Alaska the assistance of Dave Chambers to plan a dry stack tailings facility at the Kensington gold mine.

SEACC officials say Chambers is an expert in environmentally sound mine design. He is executive director of the Center for Science in Public Participation, a nonprofit group that provides research, education, and technical advice on natural resource issues.

Coeur Alaska has said it is willing to work with SEACC to move forward with the Kensington Mine, about 45 miles north of downtown. Operation of the mine has been delayed due to legal action on the disposal of the mine's tailings, the waste rock left after the gold has been extracted. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared Coeur's proposed plan to deposit the tailings in Lower Slate Lake illegal.

SEACC has urged the mine operator to instead dispose of the mine waste in dry tailings stacks on land.

"Although dry stack tailings facilities are environmentally preferable to dumping chemically processed mine waste into a lake, we need to make sure that appropriate sites and designs are chosen for such a facility," Chambers said.

He has 15 years of management and technical experience in the mineral exploration industry. He is a geophysicist with a master's degree in geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, an engineering degree in physics from the Colorado School of Mines and a doctorate in environmental planning from Berkeley.

Fort Wainwright soldier found dead in barracks

FORT WAINWRIGHT - Army officials are investigating the death of a soldier found in his barracks, a base spokeswoman said Thursday.

Another soldier found the body of Spc. William J. Willis, 23, on Wednesday afternoon.

Officials are continuing to investigate the death, but base spokeswoman Linda Douglass wouldn't release any other details.

Willis, who was from Kansas City, Kan., was a counterintelligence agent. Officials say he joined the Army in October 2004 and was assigned to Fort Wainwright in June 2005.

Next of kin have been notified.

Murder trial ofex-stripper in jeopardy

ANCHORAGE - The upcoming murder trial of a former Anchorage stripper could be delayed now that the woman's sister is refusing to testify, according to a prosecutor.

Mechele Linehan's trial was expected to begin next week. But Linehan's older sister, Melissa Hughes, told prosecutors last week she won't testify against her sister because it would be extremely difficult to testify and maintain a relationship with the rest of her family.

The prosecution last week filed paperwork with the court asking for a delay. It was concerned about the availability of John Carlin IV, who had vanished. Carlin, another key witness, is the son of the man who has been convicted in the slaying Linehan allegedly had a hand in.

Carlin surfaced late Wednesday night. It was not immediately clear how that development would affect the trial, which was scheduled to begin Monday.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor Pat Gullufsen said Carlin, now in his late 20s, could not be found and seemingly did not want to testify. Carlin's lawyer, Darryl Thompson, said late Wednesday that he had contacted his client and that he would be testifying.

Body found in heating duct inside school

ANCHORAGE - Maintenance workers investigating the source of a strange smell found a man's body deep inside a heating vent at an elementary school.

Police identified the body at Russian Jack Elementary School as that of Michael Nix, 21, who had been missing since he left his apartment near the school on Aug. 24.

"He said he was going to get something from his car, and he never came back," said his sister, Sasha Loyd.

She said her brother had been drinking that night. An alcohol container was found with the body, said police spokesman Paul Honeman.

The vent, which is 36 inches in diameter, can be accessed from the roof of the school. A person could possibly fall in, but it was more likely Nix climbed into the vent deliberately, Honeman said.

The body was lodged where the vent makes a "T," connecting to several boilers inside the building.

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