Alaska News Nightly: May 23, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Oil And Gas Group Sues Over Bearded Seal Listing

The Associated Press

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association is suing over a federal decision to list certain populations of Arctic bearded seals as threatened.

The trade association says there is no scientific evidence linking climate change to adverse effects on the seals. It also says that scientific data indicates the populations currently appear to be healthy.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fairbanks, seeks to have the listing rule set aside.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in December announced that ringed seals and bearded seals in the Arctic Ocean would join polar bears as species listed as threatened by loss of sea ice.

Pritzker Avoids Controversy At Nomination Hearing

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Commerce Department, business woman Penny Pritzker, presented her credentials for the post before a Senate committee today.

Ostebo Explains New Arctic Strategy

Laureli Kinneen, KNOM – Nome

Coast Guard Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo is traveling to major coastal communities in Alaska this week – Kotzebue, Barrow and Dutch Harbor. Today he was in Nome explaining how the Coast Guard will implement the United States Coast Guard Arctic Strategy that was just released this month.

Aiviq Engineer Suspects Contaminated Fuel Contributed To Engine Failure

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The US Coast Guard today continued its probe of what went wrong when a Shell drill rig beached near Kodiak Island last New Year’s Eve. This morning, the chief engineer of the tug  Aiviq which had been towing the drilling rig Kulluk before it broke its tow line, told a story of failed fuel injectors, while raising unanswered questions about suspected fuel contamination.

Former Judge Facing Trial For Stealing Cocaine

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Last year, Paul Pozonsky resigned from his position as a hearings officer for the state Department of Labor following an inquiry his residency status. The situation was odd for a number of reasons. For one, there were questions about whether Pozonsky landed the job because of his family’s political connections in Alaska. Then, there was the fact that he was being investigated by a grand jury in Pennsylvania for actions he took while he was a judge there. Now, that investigation is complete and Pozonsky is facing trial for stealing cocaine that was being used as evidence in cases that the presided over.

Fort Yukon Flooding Danger Mostly Over

The Associated Press

The community of Fort Yukon is able to relax after days of worry as it appears the danger from flooding is mostly over.

Late Wednesday night, dozens of residents watched as slabs of river ice suspected to be from a once-menacing ice jam 12 miles up the Yukon River passed safely below the town’s levee. The ice jam had accumulated a lake of water estimated to be 7 miles wide and 30 miles long, which could have created a serious flash flood if it broke all of a sudden.

Early Wednesday, the ice jam developed a large hole that likely grew, sending more ice downriver.

City flood coordinator Velma Carroll says she was told Wednesday night that the worst appears to be over.

More Bacterial Infections Associated With Raw Milk Consumption

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

A new batch of bacterial infections has again been traced to a raw milk operation on the Kenai Peninsula.

In a news release Thursday, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology said it is investigating another outbreak of Campylobacter infection associated with the consumption of raw milk. This new outbreak is associated with raw milk distributed by the same Kenai Peninsula cow-share program that was linked to a similar outbreak in February.

Five new cases of the infection have been identified to date, with two of the five people seeking medical attention. Testing by the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory identified the bacteria strain as Campylobacter. The same strain was found in cow manure obtained earlier this year at the cow-share farm that distributed the raw milk.

State Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin called the outbreaks “an unfortunate reminder of the inherent risks associated with raw milk consumption.”

Homer Officials Discuss Potential Move For Pier One Theatre

Ariel Van Cleave, KBBI – Homer

Homer city officials are in the early stages of creating a land-use plan for the area where the Pier One Theatre sits. The building is currently located in an area zoned for marine commercial and industrial use.

Marine Debris Awareness Gets Second Symbol

Brianna Gibbs, KMXT – Kodiak

It’s been about a year since Ophelia, the marine debris octopus, was built by Kodiak High School art students. The sculpture, which now resides in the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, was constructed using items collected from Kodiak beaches. Ophelia has become a mascot for marine debris clean up, and a vivid example of how much trash is circulating in the world’s oceans. But she won’t be the only example for long.