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Dec 09 2014
Shell Contractor Pleads Guilty to Environmental Crimes in Alaska
Tuesday, 09 December 2014
2.02 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

Josh Edge/APRN
    The Alaska U.S. District Attorney's Office announced Monday a plea deal has been reached between the federal government and Noble Drilling for incidents involving the drill ship Noble Discoverer and drill barge Kulluk while under contract with Shell Oil during the 2012 arctic drilling season. 
    As part of the plea agreement, Noble Drilling has agreed to plead guilty to eight felony offenses, and will pay $12.2 million dollars in fines, which are a combination of criminal fines and community service payments. 
    The charges are a result of a U.S. Coast Guard investigation, following an inspection of the Noble Discoverer in Seward. During the investigation, the Coast Guard found a number of maintenance and record-keeping issues. Yvonne Lamoureaux is an assistant U.S. Attorney:
    "For example, oil record book entries for the Noble Discoverer report that the oil water separator, or OWS, was used during periods of time when in fact the OWS was inoperable,” she said. “In addition, Noble failed to record that the OWS was inoperable and failed to record that its oil content meter, which is part of that required pollution prevention equipment was also non-functional."
    Lamoureaux also says Noble failed to log numerous transfers and storage of machinery space bilge water and waste oil.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis says Noble will also be placed on corporate probation for four years:
    "They will be under supervision from the United States Probation Office, and during the term of their probation, if they have any other violations of law, they could be subject to having probation revoked,” he said, “which means that they could have additional fines imposed, charges that may not have been brought in this case could then be brought at a future time."
    Additionally, Noble Drilling will enter into an environmental compliance plan, which Feldis says is meant to ensure incidents of this nature don't happen again.
    "After the investigation began, Noble came to us and notified us of changes that were underway within Noble to, of course, remedy these criminal acts. And those have continued and the environmental compliance plan required under this agreement will build upon things that Noble has now been doing since this investigation started."]
    In a written statement, Noble Drilling says it has already begun enhancing training programs and compliance policies, as well as mechanical and operational upgrades to the Noble Discoverer. 
    An independent auditor will review the plan and its implementation.
Dec 09 2014
Trident Buying Western's Kodiak Plant
Tuesday, 09 December 2014
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Trident Seafoods announced Monday it had signed a letter of intent to purchase the Western Alaska Fisheries processing plant in Kodiak from Maruha-Nichiro-owned Westward Seafoods. 
    They expect to finalize the deal by Dec. 31, Trident said in release on Monday.
    The Western processing plant handles pollock, cod,  salmon and other species. It's located on Shelikof Street, about a half mile from Trident's Kodiak plant on Marine Way.
    Trident CEO Joe Bundrant, son of the company's founder Chuck, said he was excited to expand the company's presence in Kodiak. Saying he was born in Kodiak, he has a vested interest in Trident's “ongoing commitment to Alaska’s sustainable fisheries and the community.”
    Western Alaska Fisheries originally merged with Westward Seafoods in 2001. It processes 45 million pounds of seafood per year, which is dwarfed by Westward's main plant in Dutch Harbor, which handles 245-million pounds per year.
    A purchase price was not mentioned in announcing the letter of intent to purchase. Both Joe and Chuck Bundrant are in Kodiak working out details of the deal.
Dec 08 2014
Kodiak Mayor Honored for Decades of Service
Monday, 08 December 2014
Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson receives the Vic Fischer Local Government Leadership Award from Vic Fischer, at AML's recent conference. Photo provided 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson was honored recently by the Alaska Municipal League for her contributions to improve local government and communities in Alaska.
    Branson was awarded the Vic Fischer Local Government Leadership Award at the recent Alaska Municipal League Local Government Conference. 
    The Vic Fischer Award was established in 2000 by the  Alaska Municipal League board of directors in honor of Mr. Fischer, who helped shape local government at the Alaska Constitutional Convention before statehood. He  has served the public in various capacities for over 50 years and has written numerous books and articles on  the history of local government in Alaska.
    Mayor Branson has served as a Kodiak elected official for 16 years, beginning as a borough assembly member where she served 12 years before being elected to the Kodiak City Council in 2010. In 2011 she was elected Mayor of the City of Kodiak and continues to serve in that role.  
Dec 08 2014
Powerful Mapping Tool Workshop Open to End Users
Monday, 08 December 2014
Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Wednesday the Kodiak Island Borough is presenting an opportunity for the public to get to know a widely-used mapping software, that's accessible on the web. Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner highlighted some of its capabilities at last week's meeting:
    “I encourage the public to go see how different organizations in the community utilize GIS. And I think of GIS as mapping software, which I'm sure it's more than that. But it's a you know a fascinating field. If you look around at what the borough has done with mapping, you can go on the website and look up each parcel of property and see assessed value. And having lived in other places, that's not a common thing to have such easy access to the maps and that information.”
    The GIS protocols are a worldwide standard and can be used by many different computer platforms and organizations.
    “GIS is used heavily by fish and game and fish and wildlife service, so there's so many applications where this very unique and interesting tool. So if you don't know about GIS, I encourage you to go to the event on the 10th, and if you do know about GIS, you're probably already planning to go, so.”
    The GIS Day will be on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. at Kodiak Inn Harbor Room. It'll go until 4 p.m. with a lunch break. Admission is free. 
Dec 05 2014
Wild Alaskan Owner Vows Fight Over Right to Operate
Friday, 05 December 2014
1.27 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

Jay Barrett/KMXT
On Monday, the Alaska Alcohol Beverage Control Board unanimously voted to revoke the liquor license of the Wild Alaskan, a floating bar and grill that also features exotic dancers after 9 p.m.
The issue ABC director Cynthia Franklin asked the board to considered was the "common carrier" license the Wild Alaskan sold liquor under. It allows the sale of alcohol on vehicles involved in transporting passengers or freight, such as trains, planes and boats. However, the Wild Alaskan has been anchored in one spot since the summer, and not moving around.
"What we got shut down for, Jay, is we served alcohol while on anchor. Wow."
Darren Byler is the owner and operator of the Wild Alaskan, which is the former crab boat Shaman.
"We broke no laws, we weren't serving any underage minors, we never over-served anybody that got drunk and went out and killed somebody that happens at other bars across the country."
Byler says this latest bump in the road stems from some in town who simply dissaprove of strip clubs.
"For all the haters in town, and the self-proclaimed morality police, I hate to say it, but you're going to lose on this one. You need to get back to minding your own business. If you don't like this, that's fine; we don't want you out here anyhow."
Byler says he will appeal the ABC Board's revocation of his license as far up the legal chain as it takes.
"While I'm appealing the case, I still get to use my common carrier liquor license. And we will appeal this to the Alaska Supreme Court if necessary, and that's two years down the road. For all of my regular customers who think I'm out of business, it's going to be business as usual for the next two years. And if for some reason they decide to take my license at the Supreme Court level, which I highly doubt, the charter will still be up and rolling. And we will have a 'bring your own booze out here. And our numbers will go from 12 to 50, 60 maybe even a hundred; just depends on how many people I want to put on the boat."
Byler agrees that a lot of the publicity over his business has been good  he's been on a Chicago radio show, was just interviewed by the New York Post, and in true Alaskan fashion there may be a reality series in the works but he says some of the attention has been hurtful and damaging. He said anyone who may have given false information to the ABC Board will have to pay for that. 
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