Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2003

Lights out in downtown

JUNEAU - About half of downtown Juneau lost power early Thursday morning because of wind slapping power lines together in the Gold Creek basin, an AEL&P spokeswoman said.

"If you get two lines slapping together, it creates a larger current than our system should be handling," said AEL&P office manager Gayle Wood.

The outage occurred at about 12:55 a.m. Power was restored gradually after about an hour, with customers along Gastineau Avenue experiencing a 312-hour outage, Wood said.

Check kids' car seats

JUNEAU - Parents can have their children's car seats checked for correct installation at a free event Saturday.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the Juneau Safe Kids Coalition will be at Capital Chevrolet at 5245 Glacier Highway to check car seats. Most are installed incorrectly and unsafely, the coalition said.

The group also will make available a limited number of low-cost car seats and will give out free booster seats for older children for income-eligible families.

Knowles campaigns in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - Former Gov. Tony Knowles made his first campaign stop here as a candidate for U.S. Senate, meeting with labor leaders and attending a fund-raiser.

"Our secret weapon is going to be the person-to-person campaign," Knowles said. "I don't think the other side has a clue about that. Democrats - that's our brier patch."

The campaign declined to say how much money it raised at the event held Tuesday night. The amount will be made public when Knowles files his campaign statement with the Federal Election Commission, spokesman Bob King said Wednesday.

The former two-term Alaska governor said it was his first trip to Fairbanks while on the campaign trail.

If elected, Knowles said his priorities will be jobs, natural resource development, family issues, national security and protecting personal freedoms.

Knowles announced in July his intention to challenge U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, in the 2004 election.

Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, to fill out the remainder of his unexpired term. She held her first Fairbanks fund-raiser in March, a $50 per plate dinner at the Princess Hotel which was attended by about 250 people.

Neither candidate has an opponent so far in their respective primaries, slated for Aug. 24. The general election is Nov. 2, 2004.

State, railroad settle in fuel spill case

ANCHORAGE - The state of Alaska and the Alaska Railroad Corp. have reached a settlement in a 1999 jet fuel spill that occurred when a train derailed near Gold Creek, the state attorney general said Thursday.

Under the settlement, the state will receive $125,054 from the railroad to resolve the state's claims for penalties and damages involving Denali State Park, Attorney General Gregg Renkes said.

The railroad has paid an additional $52,041 to reimburse state costs for oversight at the spill. It will also reimburse future cleanup and restoration oversight costs incurred by the state and will clean up and monitor the site as required by law, Renkes said.

In addition, the railroad will finish site restoration work requested by Alaska State Parks by October 2004.

An estimated 120,000 gallons of fuel spilled in the Dec. 22, 1999, derailment, and 15,000 to 20,000 gallons were recovered in cleanup that followed.

Holitna Energy Corp. applies for gas lease

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage company and its Native corporation partner have applied to lease 31 square miles for shallow gas development on state land, a popular moose hunting area in Western Alaska.

Holitna Energy Corp. seeks development in the Holitna basin, an area of moose- and fish-rich lowlands along the Holitna River about 300 miles west of Anchorage.

News of the application came as a surprise to villagers along the nearby Kuskokwim River. Under state regulations, notice of the proposed lease was published in Anchorage and on the Department of Natural Resources Web site, and in a legal advertisement last May in a Bethel weekly newspaper.

Villagers from Stony River to Bethel say the 60-day public comment period expired before most had heard of the plan.

The leases must be approved, however, if the state Division of Oil and Gas finds they will "benefit the area." That could come this fall, a division spokeswoman told the Anchorage Daily News.

Tsunami warning, watch canceled

PALMER - A tsunami warning and watch issued for the Aleutian chain east to Yakutat in southeastern Alaska was canceled Thursday, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said.

The watch and warning were issued shortly after a strong earthquake was reported on the northern Japan island of Hokkaido at about 11:50 a.m. Alaska time. They were canceled just before 2:30 p.m. Alaska time.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0, knocked out power, derailed a train and touched off an industrial fire. Two people were reported injured. A powerful aftershock followed an hour later.

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