Alaska News Nightly: August 31, 2007

Officials are warning that some ground beef in the state may be tainted with E.coli bacteria. Plus, we take a look at a pilot program intended to create more banking opportunities in rural Alaska. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Consumer Alert: Dangerous E.coli bacteria may be hiding in Alaska’s beef supply
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The Department of Agriculture believes some shipments of ground beef sold in Alaska could be contaminated by potentially deadly E.coli bacteria. The product had a sell-by date of August 5, and includes packages of “Northwest Finest” brand 7% and 10% natural and organic ground beef. Alaska’s head epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin wants people to check their freezers for the product.

Pilot project exploring banking services options in rural Alaska
Johanna Eurich, KDLG – Dillingham
Most rural Alaska villages don’t have banks and that makes it tough to get a loan or start a business. A pilot project announced this week would set up banking services and provide financial education to Bristol Bay villages as a first step towards improving those services statewide.

State revenue department set to release study of oil profits tax
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Anchorage
Next Tuesday the Department of Revenue will release a study of the results of the new Petroleum Profts Tax (PPT) the Alaska Legislature passed last year.

Cordova residents still reeling from 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as ExxonMobil fights on
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
Earlier this week, plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill class action lawsuit asked the U.S. Supreme Court to restore their original claim of $5 billion. This follows a request last week by ExxonMobil for the high court to repeal a lower court order to pay half that sum. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has yet to announce if it will take up the case at all. There are more than 30,000 plaintiffs in the case, including most residents of the Prince William Sound fishing town of Cordova.

Kensington Mine managers negotiate with public and courts over mine tailings plans
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Coeur Alaska President Dennis Wheeler says the company will negotiate with environmental groups on a tailings facility for the Kensington Gold Mine. But Coeur will continue to pursue its appeal of the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision striking down the mine’s permit to dump tailings into Lower Slate Lake.

Forest Service proposes logging Kuiu, but may be held up for completion of larger Tongass plan
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The U.S. Forest Service has announced a final proposal for logging more than 33 million board feet of timber on a southeast Alaska island. The Kuiu timber sale could be the largest single timber project in the Tongass National Forest in many years, but the area has been heavily logged in the past. A legal settlement completed this spring prevents approval of more logging on Kuiu until the Forest Service completes its revision of the overall forest plan.

Fairbanks tourism is up, especially with independent travelers

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Summer 2007 is shaping up to be a strong one for tourism in Alaska. Fairbanks and Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Deb Hickock says preliminary numbers show an increase in a key tourism sector: independent travelers. While summer has long been a strong cruise ship season, Hickock says more visitors are coming to Alaska on their own, outside of packaged tours.

Bad news moose: hunting season opening tomorrow
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A sure sign that summer is waning is the opening of moose hunting season across interior Alaska tomorrow. Fairbanks is a popular place for both local and outside hunters, and the area moose population is healthy.

Rare meteor shower expected early Saturday morning
Palmer Bailey, KBBI – Homer
If the skies are clear Alaskans will have the chance to see a meteor shower early tomorrow morning. Palmer Bailey, who teaches astronomy at the Kachemak Bay campus of Kenai Peninsula College, has the details of tomorrow’s rare event. This particular light show happened previously in 1935, 1986 and 1994. Want to take your chances on an early morning shower? Watch the eastern sky between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.