Alaska News Nightly: November 16, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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BP To Pay $4.5 Billion In Deepwater Horizon Settlement

Steve Heimel & Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

BP has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $4.5 billion fine to settle federal criminal charges surrounding the Deepwater Horizon blowout and spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people were killed in the 2010 explosion. The Anchorage Daily News reports that the company could be on the hook for billions more as the federal government plans to pursue a civil claim for violations of the Clean Water Act. More than 4 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico from the blowout.

House District 34 Race All Tied Up

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

The race for House District 34 is all tied up.

Haines Republican Representative Bill Thomas and Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins now each have 4,054 votes.

Fire Crews Respond To Engine Explosion On Shell Drill Rig

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

A contained engine backfire explosion aboard Shell’s Noble Discoverer drill rig sent fire crews in Unalaska scrambling this morning. Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin says she felt the blast from the harbor office, which is about 200 yards away.

US Mint Issues Denali Quarter

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Alaskans and coin collectors from as far away as the Lower 48, were in Healy yesterday for the U.S. Mint’s official launch of a new Denali National Park quarter.

Man Convicted In Hoonah Murder Wants New Trial

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

The Hoonah man who was convicted this month of the murder of two police officers wants a new trial on whether one of the officers was actually in performance of his official duties. The difference could mean as much as 79-years taken off his potential sentence.

Fuglvog Fishing Associate To Pay $100,000 For Illegal Fishing

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

A commercial fisherman who was a former associate of disgraced highliner and congressional aide Arne Fuglvog will have to pay $100,000 for his own illegal fishing activities.

Forty-seven-year-old Freddie Joe Hankins was sentenced last week to three-years of probation and will have all of his future fishing activities recorded by an electronic monitoring device. Twenty-five-thousand dollars will be in the form of a fine and $75,000 will be a community service payment. He’ll also be required to have a statement acknowledging his wrongdoing published in National Fisherman magazine.

Federal fisheries investigators alleged that Hankins, harvested about 47,800 pounds of black cod that were counted toward his Individual Fishing Quota for the Central Gulf of Alaska area, when the fish were actually caught in the Western Yakutat area by Fuglvog’s boat Kamilar. The fish allegedly had a value of more than $222,000 and was eventually transported across state lines from Yakutat to Seattle. Hankins is a Cove, Oregon resident.

Bethel Search And Rescue Leader Resigns

Trim Nick, KYUK – Bethel

The long-time leader of the Bethel Search and Rescue team is stepping down as President. Citing obligations to the health of family members, Peter Atchak has submitted his resignation to the all-volunteer organization.

Wildlife Agency Prepares For Alaska Employee Loss

The Associated Press

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Alaska is bracing for an exodus of expertise.

Forty to 50 employees – just under 10 percent of the workforce – are expected to retire Dec. 31 to take advantage of a window to boost retirement pay.

Agency spokesman Bruce Woods says hundreds of years of experience will be lost with the departures.

The agency manages 16 wildlife refuges in the state. The refuges together total nearly 120,000 square miles, an area about the size of New Mexico.

AK: Parrots

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Although the sale of wild caught exotic birds has been banned in the US for decades, commercial breeders in the country make a variety of parrots and parakeets available for pet lovers. But they are challenging pets. And because some owners give them up, there are more parrots in Alaska than there are homes for them.

300 Villages: Craig

This week, we’re heading to the Southeast community of Craig, on Prince of Wales Island. Victoria Merritt is the recreation director in Craig.