Alaska News Nightly: May 12, 2009

Blue Whales Are Returning To Alaska
Blue Whales Are Returning To Alaska

Photograph Provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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Ketchikan Wrestling With Suicides
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
Mental health experts estimate there has been on average one suicide a month in Ketchikan since the beginning of the year. A mental health provider in the city is attempting to reverse that trend by holding a suicide prevention town hall meeting.

Cruise Ship Carrying Probable H1N1 Case Docks in Sitka; All Aboard Healthy
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Serenade of the Seas is now docked at Sitka. The vessel left Washington state with a crew member who had tested in Seattle for a probable case of H1N1, the so called swine flu virus. All crew and passengers are healthy, the crew member took anti virals and tested negative in Ketchikan.

Yukon Continues to Break Up, Tanana Seeing High Water
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Tanana is the latest community to see high water as break up continues on the Yukon River. National Weather Service Hydrologist Ed Plumb says an ice jam 50 miles downstream of Tanana, is backing up the same wave of melt water that hit Eagle last week.

Governor Sarah Palin Visits Eagle
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Governor Sarah Palin toured flood damaged Eagle yesterday. Eagle residents are coping with large chunks of ice grounded in town during last week’s record flood. Local resident John Borg says the ice is intermixed with buildings and poses a hazard.

Rock Creek Mine Has Agree to Pay Civil Penalty
The Associated Press
Federal officials say the owners and operators of the Rock Creek Mine in Nome have agreed to pay more than $880,000 in a civil penalty to resolve violations of a storm water discharge permit. The U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement today.

Interior Department Wants Clarification on Offshore Decision
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked the Justice Department for clarification on a recent court case that’s halted development in Alaska’s offshore waters. Last month the D-C Circuit Court of Appealsruled that the Bush Administration did not conduct sufficient scientific and environmental analysis before holding oil and gas lease sales on the outer continental shelf. Now the Interior Secretary is weighing-in on how he hopes to move forward.

Endangered Blue Whales Headed Back to Alaska
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Blue whales appear to be re-establishing their migration route from California to the Gulf of Alaska. The endangered whales were decimated by commercial whalers until the practice became illegal in 1965. The scientists guess half the North Pacific population-or about 1500 animals, are migrating north again.

Coast Guard Commander Temporarily Relieved of Duty
The Associated Press
Captain Mark Hamilton, the Coast Guard’s commander for the Anchorage sector, has been temporarily relieved of his duties.  The Coast Guard announced Monday that Hamilton was removed by Rear Admiral Arthur Brooks, commander of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District.

Shorebird Festival Promises A Variety of Entertainment
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer is one of the largest bird watching gatherings in the state.  But for those who might not be into birds, there are plenty of other opportunities for fun.

Governor Sarah Palin To Publish Memoir
The Associated Press
Governor Sarah Palin is set to publish a memoir with HarperCollins that will come out in Spring 2010. Palin’s book, currently untitled, will cover her personal and political life, from her childhood in Alaska and last year’s presidential campaign to her political beliefs and her family life, including the pregnancy of her teenage daughter, Bristol Palin, who gave birth in December to a baby boy, Tripp. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Palin was widely expected to receive a multimillion-dollar contract.