Alaska News Nightly: March 18, 2011

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Nomination for Fish and Game Commissioner Closer to Confirmation
Associated Press
Alaska lawmakers on Friday moved Cora Campbell’s nomination for commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game one step closer to confirmation.

The 31-year-old Campbell initially faced opposition due to her youth and commercial fishing background, but representatives from a number of fishing organizations called in to the House Resources Committee to support her candidacy.

Jerry McCune of the United Fishermen of Alaska says he sees Campbell’s youthfulness as an asset that will allow her to bring fresh perspective to the department.

The committee also heard two calls in opposition to her confirmation.

Campbell will face another confirmation hearing before the Senate Resources Committee next week.

Her nomination will be finalized after approval from a joint session of the legislature.

Nuclear Power Plant Failure Showing No Impact on Alaska
Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska & Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
While state and federal officials have been closely monitoring the situation at the nuclear power plant in Japan, they say that the failure there has not had any impact on Alaska.

Jon Edwards, a radiation expert with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has decided to expand its “RadNet” system, which examines air and drinking water for radiation contamination. While the EPA already had radiation monitors in place in Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks, the agency is setting up new ones in Unalaska and Nome – along with an extra one in Juneau – to cover a greater geographic area across the state. The monitors arrived in Unalaska and Nome yesterday, and they’ll be up and running by next week says Bernd Jilly, chief of the Alaska State Public Health Laboratories.

Greg Wilkinson is a spokesperson for Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, and he says that the state does not expect those monitors to pick up high levels.

He adds that radiation levels would have to be 40 times higher than usual for there to be any health concern.

In Unalaska, residents have continued on with their daily lives. Public Safety director Jamie Sunderland stressed that community members should be doing exactly that, and avoiding medical precautions that could have adverse side effects.

In Kodiak, officials there say are in close contact with state emergency coordinators to monitor any possible threat of radiation contamination blowing over the Gulf of Alaska.

Kodiak Fire Chief Rome Kamai heads the community’s emergency planning effort.

Representative Requests Radiation Monitoring Equipment in YK Delta
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Following the heightened awareness of a possible radiation threat, Representative Bob Herron of Bethel is asking for monitoring equipment in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Mat-Su Officials Stress Disaster Preparedness
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaskans are no strangers to earthquakes, and since the recent disaster in Japan, they are focusing anew on coping with one.   Matanuska Susitna Borough officials have long urged residents to plan ahead for a natural calamity, and as KSKA’s  Ellen Lockyer reports,  those concerned about taking action now can gain valuable tips at an upcoming disaster preparedness workshop

ASRC Dividend 33-Percent Higher Than Last Spring
Jake Neher, KBRW – Barrow
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation shareholders will receive a spring dividend of $16.53 per share in April.

The average ASRC shareholder owns 100 shares and will receive $1,653 in total. That’s 33-percent higher than the payout last spring. The distribution pushes the total dollar amount paid out in dividends since the company’s incorporation above half-a-billion dollars.

The overall net income to all shareholders is just over $164 million.

The ASRC board typically declares two dividends every year. One in the fall and a second in the spring.

This spring’s dividend will be issued April 13.

Sitka Herring Industry Could Top $12 Million Again
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Sitka’s spring herring fishery appears on course to top $12-million for the second year in a row. Area management biologist Dave Gordon told the Sitka Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that the 2011 harvest could exceed last year’s take of nearly 18,000 tons. Gordon offered an unusual look behind the scenes at one of the state’s most lucrative fisheries.

Some Census Data Being Misread
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The U.S. Census Bureau has released the detailed 2010 Census data for Alaska but a leading economist says some media outlets are misreading the data that breaks down the population by race.

Company Investigates Feasibility of Potential Gold Mine at Livengood
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Former Department of Natural Resources Commissioner and Fort Knox Mine engineer Tom Irwin is being tapped by the company hoping to develop a gold mine at Livengood north of Fairbanks. Livengood Project Manager for International Tower Hill Subsidiary Talon Gold, Karl Hanneman says Irwin will develop of a design for the proposed open pit hard rock mine.

International Tower Hill has leased mineral rights a two-mile wide by eight-mile long strip of primarily state land, east of the Elliot Highway, and south of the old Livengood town site. Hanneman says about 100 people are currently working on site. A pre-feasibility study will be completed by the end of the year.  After that, the project will undergo public review and permitting.

Juneau Man Up for Special Honor
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
A Juneau man is up for an award given by recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Bruce Bowler is one of 20 finalists for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors, bestowed upon ordinary people who either commit a single act of bravery, or demonstrate a lifetime of putting service to others above themselves. Bowler was nominated for founding SEADOGS – Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search. He’s led his team of canines and human handlers on more than 700 search and rescue missions over nearly 35 years.