Alaska News Nightly: January 15, 2009

An oil industry supply boat sinks  under an offshore platform in icy Cook Inlet. Plus, the crew of the  Alaska Warrior are honored in Unalaska. Also, the Izembek refuge land swap legislation is passed by the US senate and a new lawsuit has been filed against Jesuits over sexual abuse in Alaska.

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Supply boat sinks under offshore platform in Cook Inlet
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
An oil industry supply boat sank near an offshore platform in icy Cook Inlet today after it began taking on water in the early morning hours. The 166-foot Monarch was delivering supplies to the Granite Point platform on the west side of the inlet, north of Nikiski, when ice pinned it against the platform and the vessel began to flood. Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Sara Francis says the captain and crew were all able to evacuate the Monarch onto the oil platform. Because the boat sank beneath the platform, the crew and seven non-essential platform workers were then flown via helicopter to shore.

Crew of Alaska Warrior honored in Unalaska

Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The crew members of the Alaska Warrior were honored today by the City of Unalaska and the U.S. Coast Guard for their essential role in rescuing 42 people off of the Alaska Ranger when it sank last spring.

Izembek refuge land swap legislation passes senate in massive lands bill
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Officials from the Alaska Peninsula community of King Cove are pleased with today’s Senate passage of a huge lands bill that includes language authorizing the Interior Secretary to determine whether a land exchange in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is a good idea. The legislation also requires an Environmental Impact statement that would examine how an emergency road from King Cove to Cold Bay may impact the refuge. King Cove mayor Ernest Weiss says currently King Cove residents can only access the airport at Cold Bay by using a hovercraft.

New lawsuit filed against Jesuits over sexual abuse in Alaska
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A new lawsuit has been filed against the Oregon Society of Jesus alleging sexual abuse by clergy it provided to Alaska catholic parishes. The suit was filed Tuesday in Bethel by 43 men and women who say they suffered the abuse in western Alaska villages. The claims span 4 decades up until 2001.  The Jesuits share responsibility for the priests with the Fairbanks Diocese, which filed for bankruptcy under a hail of abuse suits last year. Plaintiff’s attorney Chris Cook says the additional claims arose out of the diocese chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Fur Seal population falls on the Pribilofs

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Biologists have documented an alarming decline in fur seal pups on the Pribilof Islands. The latest survey numbers show pup production is at its lowest level since 1915, down almost 5% over thelast two years.

ALaska TV stations to “soft test” digital conversion
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
TV viewers in Alaska may lose their signal tonight for a few minutes, if they’re not ready for the digital television transition.  Some of Alaska’s TV stations will shut off their analog signal this evening for a range of three to five minutes at around 6:20.  The “soft test” will cause viewers who aren’t digital-ready to temporarily lose their TV picture.

When is a gallon of gas not a gallon of gas

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A gallon isn’t always a gallon when it comes to fuel deliveries.  That’s because Alaska bulk fuel venders are allowed to adjust the gallon measurement to compensate for temperature caused expansion and contraction.  Now, the state has commissioned a study of the practice.

International Pacific Halibut Commission to address halibut catch limits

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The commercial and charter fishing fleets are taking their concerns over halibut catch limits to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the IPHC. The commission has its annual meeting in Vancouver this week and for the third year in a row, commission staff is proposing a deep cut to the southeast Alaska harvest.