Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Juneau men walk out of Kelsall Valley

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HAINES - Two Juneau men who had been reported missing were located in the Kelsall Valley near the Canadian border above Haines.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew located the pair late Tuesday morning as the men were hiking out.

Alaska State Trooper Josh Bentz said Robby Harris and Ray Howard were reported missing Monday, and a search began immediately.

Dozens of volunteers, many on snowmachines, searched Monday and Tuesday.

Bentz says Harris and Howard found themselves in an unfamiliar area as night fell Monday. They decided to build a lean-to shelter and spend the night.

BP donates nearly $850,000 to libraries

ANCHORAGE - Oil company BP Alaska has donated nearly $850,000 to the Anchorage Public Library system.

BP Alaska President Doug Suttles says the funds are targeted to several capital projects to renovate and expand Anchorage library buildings.

A majority of the gift will go for a new 10,000-square-foot library and learning center in Mountain View that will open next fall.

The money will also go to technology labs at the new Chugiak-Eagle River Library opening next fall and at the Z.J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.

And $100,000 has been set aside for a new library in downtown Anchorage.

Two injured in plane crash in Bethel

BETHEL - Two crew members were hospitalized after a plane crashed after taking off from the Bethel airport.

The Cessna Grand Caravan crashed Tuesday about two miles from the airport.

The plane came to rest on top of a tundra hill after skidding about 100 yards and leaving a trail of debris, including the plane's wheels and cargo.

The aircraft, which was extensively damaged, is owned and operated by Arctic Circle Air.

The airline's director of postal affairs, Paul Hendrickson, said there was a pilot and another crew member on board. Alaska State Troopers say both were taken to the Bethel hospital. Names or conditions were not immediately available.

The plane was en route to deliver mail to the coastal communities of Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. Troopers are investigating.

Kuparuk spill blamed on pipeline corrosion

ANCHORAGE - A spill of oil and water at the Kuparuk oil field on the North Slope was caused by pipeline corrosion, a state agency said Tuesday.

The rupture that spilled 4,284 gallons was discovered Sunday in the field operated by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.

ConocoPhillips has told the state Department of Environmental Conservation that there was external corrosion to the pipeline. Crews removed insulation from the pipe and observed a 6-inch long crack, which was about one-eighth of an inch at its center.

Investigators believe the cause was from external corrosion caused by water trapped between the pipe and the insulation.

Two crews working 12-hour shifts are cleaning up the spill. A 300-yard long ice road has been built to improve access to the site and protect the tundra from vehicle damage.

North Pole man hit by truck, killed

NORTH POLE - A 47-year-old North Pole man has died after being hit by a truck as he walked to a friend's house.

Kurt McNeil died at the scene Sunday night.

Alaska State Troopers said the driver of the truck was coming around a curve and was unable to avoid hitting McNeil.

Troopers said there were no street lights in the area and McNeil was wearing dark clothing.

The driver of the truck is not expected to face any charges.

Enstar pays total of $700,000 in refunds

ANCHORAGE - Enstar Natural Gas Company has paid a total of $700,000 in refunds and credits to almost 1,000 customers who live in duplexes and multifamily homes.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska says the customers were overcharged.

In September, the commission ordered Enstar to notify nearly 11,000 small commercial customers that they could ask for a rate adjustment.

The commission says customers paying the commercial rate for a strictly residential building with two or more apartments on the same meter are entitled to a lower rate.

The utility received more than 2,000 requests for the rate adjustment.

No link seen between two bank robberies

ANCHORAGE - Authorities say they haven't found any link between two robberies in Anchorage that occurred within hours of each other.

The first robbery took place shortly before 2 p.m. Monday at an Alaska USA Credit Union. The second one occurred around 4:45 p.m. at a Credit Union 1.

There have been no arrests in either robbery.

The FBI says the first robber - described as an Alaska Native or Hispanic man in his mid-30s - was seen getting into a green Subaru station wagon driven by another man. The second robber is described as a white man between 20 and 30 years old.

The FBI says there have been 12 bank robberies in Alaska this year.

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