Alaska News Nightly: March 2, 2012

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Man Dies After Accident On Fishing Vessel

Alexandra Guiterrezr, KUCB – Unalaska

A 39-year-old man died aboard a fishing vessel on Thursday after being struck by a snapped cable.

The Coast Guard received a call yesterday morning that the F/V Alaska Juris was in need of a medevac for a crew member who had sustained a head injury. According to Petty Officer Charly Hengen, the Coast Guard launched two Jayhawk helicopters from Unalaska at 10:40am. Once on scene, a rescue swimmer was lowered onto the vessel and determined that the injured man was dead and could not be revived. The identity of the man has not yet been released.

The Alaska Juris returned to Unalaska on Friday morning with the body, and the Alaska State Troopers are now handling the situation.

The Alaska Juris is a 238-foot factory operated by the Fishing Company of Alaska. FCA headquarters had no comment on the matter.

House Approves Bill Accelerating Return Of Evidence

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The House today approved a Senate bill designed to speed up the return of items being held as evidence in criminal cases.

Ft. Wainwright Soldier Admits To Taking Gifts, Cash, Favors From Iraqi Contractor

Associated Press

A Fort Wainwright-based soldier has admitted to taking thousands of dollars in gifts, cash and favors from an Iraqi contractor.

Capt. Michael George Rutecki has signed a plea deal with prosecutors. In the plea agreement, he admits accepting illegal gratuities in exchange for helping a Baghdad contractor.

The Army paid the Nibras Group for civil service projects. Rutecki was a pay agent in charge of disbursing money for the projects from 2008 to 2011.

Rutecki took about $42,800 in gifts and cash in exchange for favoring the Nibras Group. Projects included a large electrical generator and school repair.

Federal prosecutors signed the agreement this week. A judge will review the agreement March 7 in Anchorage at Rutecki’s sentencing hearing.

DEC Investigating North Pole Oil Spill

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating an oil spill at the Flint Hills Resources refinery in North Pole.

Early Trail Conditions Look Good For Mushers

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

Iditarod 2012 is set to start up this weekend, with the ceremonial start Saturday and the restart in Willow on Sunday, and mushers should see some pretty good conditions over the first couple days of the race.

Bear Snaring Opponents Gather Over 3,000 Signatures

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Opponents of a bear snaring proposal have gathered over 3,000 signatures in an effort to get the state game board to drop it. The Department of Fish and Game proposal would allow the public to snare bears in a wide area of the state, primarily in the interior, as a way to reduce predation. Alaska Center for the Environment held a teleconference on the issue Wednesday. The group’s executive director Sue Levenson said their primary concern is a lack of biological data to back up the proposal, something she calls a state management trend.

Bill Could Allow Legislature To Approve, Deny Pebble Mine

Mike Mason, KDLG

The Alaska Legislature has been wary of getting involved in the debate about the controversial Pebble Mine for a number of reasons.    However, a bill under consideration would basically give the Legislature the power to approve or deny the mine because it could impact the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve created by the Legislature in 1972.

BLM Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement For Resource Management Plan

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Bureau of Land Management has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement for a Resource Management Plan for millions of acres in the eastern interior.

Alert Level For Kanaga Volcano Lowered

Associated Press

The Alaska Volcano Observatory has lowered the alert level for a volcano in the remote Aleutian Islands.

Scientists on Friday said in a release that the level of unrest has subsided at Kanaga Volcano, prompting the alert reduction.

The level was raised Feb. 18 after possible explosive activity and a minor ash cloud. The observatory says there was a slight increase in seismic activity a week later, but no confirmed ash emission.

Kanaga Volcano is located about 1,215 miles southwest of Anchorage in the western Aleutian Islands.