Alaska News Nightly: August 18, 2008

Congressman Don Young is facing his toughest primary challenge to date. We’ll have a profile of that race. Plus, biologists study unlikely juvenile salmon habitat on the lower Kenai Peninsula. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Methane tanker crash vents explosive gas, snarls Mat-Su traffic

Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Matanuska-Susitna Borough
A tanker rollover at mile 179 on the Parks Highway has stalled north and southbound traffic all day. The tanker, carrying 9,000 gallons of liquid methane, is currently venting the gas and emergency personnel have secured the area.

Ballot Measure 4 hottest political topic, most expensive issue
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
For most elections, the state of Alaska caps campaign contributions at $500 from individuals and $1,000 from political action committees. But on ballot measures, money is treated as a form of free speech, so the sky’s the limit. Spending on one measure dwarfs everything else on Alaska’s August 26 primary ballot. One side calls it a clean water initiative, the other calls it an anti-mining measure. The mining industry, environmental groups, and at least one mystery donor have poured more than $8 million into the initiative.

Pogo gold mine pouring profits after years of trouble
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Pogo Mine has overcome early operational setbacks and is turning a profit. The State’s second-largest gold mine poured it first gold in early 2006 after construction costs ran $50 million over budget. The underground mining operation went on to suffer a major electrical fire, problems with ore processing equipment and trouble filling key jobs.

Republican primary for U.S. House busiest in years
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
In the lead up to the Congressional primary election next week, Don Young is facing his most serious reelection challenge in many years. Today we have more on the 3-way Republican primary race for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Analog TV goes dead in 6 months; is largely-rural Alaska ready?
Libby Casey, APRN – Anchorage
In six months, television viewers who aren’t ready for the conversion to digital will be out of luck — unable to watch broadcast TV. Federal law requires TV stations to switch over to a digital signal on February 17, 2009. The FCC estimates that 20% of Americans still don’t know about the change-over, so they’re ramping up public education efforts in the coming weeks.

Falling birth rate means Petersburg may cancel local baby delivery services
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Petersburg’s hospital may stop delivering babies on a routine basis next year. Physicians are recommending the change due to a substantial decline in the number of local births.

Salmon habitat in forgotten streams under study
Emily Schwing, KBBI – Homer
This summer, biologists on the Lower Kenai Peninsula have been studying some unlikely juvenile salmon habitat.