Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2005

Juneau bomb squad called aboard ferry

JUNEAU - When the Matanuska was scheduled to depart Auke Bay at 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Juneau police department received a call to inspect a suspicious object on board the vessel.

A box in the freezer compartment below the deck had the words "anti-terrorist device, keep frozen" written on the outside, according to the police.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard and the police department's bomb squad determined the box contained frozen seafood.

The ferry was evacuated and delayed three and half hours before it departed.

The Matanuska can carry 500 passengers and 88 vehicles. The 408-foot ferry has been in service since 1963.

Bear shot in Mendenhall Valley

JUNEAU - Police killed a bear Wednesday morning that seems to have been a frequent nuisance in recent weeks.

The bear, a 3-year-old female with a yellow tag in each of its ears, was initially shot Tuesday night by a resident in the 2500 block of Alder Circle, said Ryan Scott, assistant area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Juneau Police Capt. Tom Porter said an officer who went to the scene at about 11 a.m. Wednesday believed the bear was dead until it appeared to "wake up."

Scott said he is confident it is the same bear that was shown on the front page of the Sept. 7 Juneau Empire, amid garbage it had scattered near Lee Smith Drive in the airport area. The man who initially shot the bear told Scott that the animal had his dog cornered in a carport, he said.

Scott said he doesn't know if it was the only bear responsible for recent reports of bears getting into homes. Although it had two tags to show it had been captured, it had only been captured once in its life, he added.

As a cub, it was captured in October 2002 and relocated 35 miles from Juneau neighborhoods, Scott said.

The man who shot the bear will have to fill out paperwork and speak to investigators, he said. State law provides that it is justifiable to shoot a bear in defense of life and property.

EPA finds Ward Cove cleanup is working

KETCHIKAN - A review by a federal agency has found that the cleanup of Ward Cove after the Ketchikan Pulp Co. shut down in 1997 is working.

Environmental conditions have improved in many parts of the cove where the cleanup occurred, according to a five-year review by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency found that a sandy cap on the cove floor has remained in place. And it found that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is doing a good job of maintaining records and making sure restrictions are enforced on land.

Ketchikan Pulp operated a pulp mill at the cove from 1954 to 1997, and the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation signed off on a cleanup plan in 2000. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough now controls much of the cove, taking ownership after Gateway Forest Products failed in 2002. Ketchikan Pulp still owns the wood waste and ash disposal landfill at the cove.

Ward Cove has been listed as an impaired water body since 1990, and is part of the EPA Superfund program. Cleanup at Ward Cove took place between 1998 and 2001.

Rep. Elkins released from Seattle hospital

KETCHIKAN - Rep. Jim Elkins has been released from a Seattle hospital where he is being treated for liver cancer.

The Ketchikan Republican was released Tuesday from Swedish Medical Center, said Jim Van Horn, Elkins' chief of staff. Elkins, 68, had been hospitalized since Sept. 14. He underwent a biopsy that confirmed he has liver cancer. He is now staying with his daughter in Seattle awaiting more test results and the start of a treatment program.

Elkins went to a doctor in Ketchikan earlier this month with a cough. He thought he had the flu but the doctor suspected there was fluid in his lungs and admitted him to Ketchikan General Hospital. Elkins was transferred to the Seattle hospital where doctors discovered a malignant tumor in his liver.

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