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From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Refinery Owner Seeks Lower Cleanup Level For Tainted Groundwater

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:21

The operator of the North Pole refinery wants the state to set a lower standard for cleaning up the sulfolane groundwater-contamination problem in the North Pole area. Flint Hills Resources Alaska has asked the head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to set a less-stringent cleanup level for the industrial solvent that leaked into the groundwater for more than a decade before Flint Hills bought the refinery in 2004. The requests could delay cleanup for several months.

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Akutan Volcano’s Geothermal Power Potential Increases

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:20

The central cone in Akutan Caldera. Photo courtesy Cyrus Read, USGS.

A new study says Akutan Volcano could be an even more promising source of geothermal energy than previously thought.

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It’s been three decades since the U.S. Geological Survey last studied Akutan’s volcano-powered hot springs. Since then, head researcher Deborah Bergfeld says the springs have gotten stronger, and there’s more material from Akutan Volcano dissolved in the springwater.

“These are all good indicators that there might be a reservoir of hot water big enough to supply geothermal power,” she says.

Bergfeld says a volcanic eruption and seismic activity in the 1990s could account for the increase in power potential — the springs are now producing 29 megawatts of heat. That number would shrink when converted into electricity. But Bergfeld says it would still be substantial.

“We don’t have enough data to say how many megawatts of electricity you could get out of it. We just said that there would be a potential for several,” she says. “Each megawatt could power about 750 homes.”

It sounds like a good deal for the city’s small residential population and its large Trident Seafoods processing plant. Right now, that all runs on fuel oil barged in from Unalaska.

But Bergfeld says a strong volcanic resource alone isn’t enough to tell whether geothermal is worth the cost of installation.

“You also have to have a need for the power. So it has to be people living there… there’s a lot of economy,” she says. “The balance has to work out.”

That’s a balance Akutan is hoping to strike. They’ve been working on a plan to tap into their geothermal resource for years, with the help of several grants.

Akutan mayor Joe Bereskin says the new USGS data will help their cause as they work on a business plan.

“I think there’s a customer base here,” he says. “We just have to make the numbers work. And that’s what our next goal is, to see if it all makes financial sense.”

They hope to have that business plan done in the next month.

Bering Sea Ice Sees 7-Year Expansion

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:19

While sea ice in the Arctic has been undergoing a seven-year decline, sea ice in the Bering Sea has been experiencing a seven-year expansion.

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Interior Alaska’s River, Lake Ice Thinner Than Normal

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:18

There’s less than normal ice build up on many Interior waters. The National Weather Service drills into ice on rivers and lakes at the start of each month, and agency hydrologist Ed Plumb says January’s measurements showed generally thinner ice.

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Allen Moore Wins Copper Basin 300

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:17

Photo courtesy of the Copper Basin 300 Facebook page.

Allen Moore has successfully defended his Copper Basin 300 title. The Two Rivers musher held off Nicolas Petit on the final leg for his fifth victory, the most in race history.

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Trailbreakers Prepare Yukon Quest Route

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:16

Trailbreakers are busy packing and clearing the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race trail. There are no major changes planned for the route this year. This will be one of the busier years on the Alaska side of the trail, where dog teams are likely to encounter open water.

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UAA Planetarium Offers Unique Look Into McNeil Bear Sanctuary

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:15

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, the McNeil River Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska offers an opportunity to safely get up close and personal with the largest congregation of brown bears in the world.

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Since only 185 permits are drawn each year, a UAA professor decided to team up with an Alaskan filmmaker to create an immersive experience for those who can’t make the trip.

When you go to a planetarium, you expect to learn about the night sky, but, as I sit down in UAA’s planetarium, the lights are dimmed and the ceiling lights up with a view of the McNeil River in Southwest Alaska.

Travis Rector is a professor of physics and astronomy at UAA as well as the producer of “River of Bears.” He says the purpose of the planetarium is much broader than just studying the stars.

“One of the things that we can do in our planetarium is we can give people the experience of being anywhere, whether it be an orbit around the earth, or far side of the galaxy, underneath the ocean, or even at a bear sanctuary,” Rector said.

“River of Bears” is the first wildlife documentary ever produced specifically for a planetarium.

Rector and filmmaker Jonathan VanBallenbergh used a special video set up mixed with photographs to take advantage of the planetarium’s domed ceiling and 360 degree view. Rector said that technology allows viewers to immerse themselves in the full McNeil River experience – from the flight in, to time sitting in camp, to the bear viewing areas.

“One of the special experiences about McNeil River is that it teaches you how to watch; it teaches you how to be perceptive about what’s going on around you,” Rector said. “And we tried to convey that feeling in the movie where as you’re watching the show there’s all these things happening, and if you take the time to look around, you’ll see lots of neat little things.”

Rector said because the McNeil River changes as the season progresses, it took the crew two trips to get the material they needed to put the documentary together.

“In the early season, when the bears are at Mikfik Creek, the focus is on grazing and mating, and then as the season progresses, as you start to get into July, the salmon start to run into McNeil River and that’s when the bear viewing switches out to the pads at McNeil Falls,” Rector said.

Even though bears will sometimes come to within feet of the viewing areas, they mostly ignore people. This is largely because of the way the Department of Fish and Game manages the human activity in the area. In the nearly 50-year history of the sanctuary, no one has been injured by a bear at McNeil River.

Despite the refuge’s safety record, Rector says the thought of being surrounded by bears for four days is off-putting for some.

“When you describe the experience that you fly out to this remote location in Alaska and then you sleep in a tent in bear country, that alone makes many people say, ‘there’s no way I would ever consider doing that that,’” Rector said. “And so there’s a lot of people, whether it be the lottery system, or expense, or fear, or physical ability, will never get the chance to experience what there is to experience at McNeil.”

Rector says the goal of “River of Bears” is to bring the experience to that audience.

The show opens Friday at the UAA Planetarium and Visualization Theater.

Alaska News Nightly: January 13, 2014

Mon, 2014-01-13 18:08

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 alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Federal Spending Package Secures Funds For Tribal Health Care Facilities

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

In Congress tonight, a massive spending package has emerged after weeks of intense negotiations among lawmakers, and it contains good news for Alaskans.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski, top Republican on the subcommittee for Interior Department spending, has announced that she’s secured $66 million to staff the state’s six new tribally operated health care facilities.  Lloyd Miller, an Anchorage attorney who represents Native hospital and clinic operators, says it will help the tribal groups who borrowed money to build the facilities, and boost the economy as a whole.

Alaska’s Affordable Care Act Enrollment Remains Low

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The federal government released numbers today that give an idea of who is signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In Alaska, about 3000 people selected marketplace plans before December 28th and 83% qualify for a subsidy to help pay for premiums. But Enroll Alaska has seen a steep drop off in the number of people signing up for insurance in the New Year.

Refinery Owner Seeks Lower Cleanup Level For Tainted Groundwater

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

The operator of the North Pole refinery wants the state to set a lower standard for cleaning up the sulfolane groundwater-contamination problem in the North Pole area. Flint Hills Resources Alaska has asked the head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to set a less-stringent cleanup level for the industrial solvent that leaked into the groundwater for more than a decade before Flint Hills bought the refinery in 2004. The requests could delay cleanup for several months.

Akutan Volcano’s Geothermal Power Potential Increases

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

A new study shows Akutan Volcano could be an even more promising source of geothermal energy than previously thought.

Bering Sea Ice Sees 7-Year Expansion

Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome

While sea ice in the Arctic has been undergoing a seven-year decline, sea ice in the Bering Sea has been experiencing a seven-year expansion.

Interior Alaska’s River, Lake Ice Thinner Than Normal

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

There’s less than normal ice build up on many Interior waters. The National Weather Service drills into ice on rivers and lakes at the start of each month, and agency hydrologist Ed Plumb says January’s measurements showed generally thinner ice.

Allen Moore Wins Copper Basin 300

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

Allen Moore has successfully defended his Copper Basin 300 title.  The Two Rivers musher held off Nicolas Petit on the final leg for his fifth victory, the most in race history.

Trailbreakers Prepare Yukon Quest Route

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Trailbreakers are busy packing and clearing the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race trail. There are no major changes planned for the route this year. This will be one of the busier years on the Alaska side of the trail, where dog teams are likely to encounter open water.

UAA Planetarium Offers Unique Look Into McNeil Bear Sanctuary

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, the McNeil River Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska offers an opportunity to safely get up close and personal with the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. Since only 185 permits are drawn each year, a UAA professor decided to team up with an Alaska filmmaker to create an immersive experience for those who can’t make the trip.

Photos: Moore edges Petit in Copper Basin 300 race

Mon, 2014-01-13 17:58
Photos: Moore edges Petit in Copper Basin 300 race

Allen Moore, the defending 2013 Yukon Quest champion, managed to hold off Girdwood's Nicolas Petit by just seven minutes to earn back-to-back victories in the Copper Basin 300 that starts and finishes in the Interior Alaska community of Glennallen

January 13, 2014

Allen Moore wins Copper Basin 300 with mere minutes to spare

Mon, 2014-01-13 16:47
Allen Moore wins Copper Basin 300 with mere minutes to spare 2013 Yukon Quest champ Allen Moore successfully defended his Copper Basin 300 title Monday, edging out runner-up Nicolas Petit by a mere seven minutes in one of the first big sled dog races of 2014.January 13, 2014

Healthcare.gov update: 2013 enrollment numbers for Alaska

Mon, 2014-01-13 16:16
Healthcare.gov update: 2013 enrollment numbers for Alaska A report released Monday offers a breakdown of the most recent data for uninsured Alaskans enrolling in health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. About 3,300 Alaskans signed up in the last quarter of 2013.January 13, 2014

Local flu clinics close after vaccine runs out

Mon, 2014-01-13 14:55
Any Whitehorse residents planning to get the annual flu vaccine this year are out of luck, for now.

Police find one of two missing men

Mon, 2014-01-13 14:53
The mystery of a missing Whitehorse man has been solved.

First Nation lays off staff

Mon, 2014-01-13 14:51
The Liard First Nation has temporarily laid off all non-essential staff.

Paslawski rink’s dream season continues

Mon, 2014-01-13 14:16
Alexx Peech reached back and patted Pat Paslawski on the back after the veteran skip released his final stone in the 10th end.

Alaska Paralympic skier notches first World Cup win in downhill

Mon, 2014-01-13 13:44
Alaska Paralympic skier notches first World Cup win in downhill Andrew Kurka, 21, of Anchorage won a gold medal in the men’s sitting division on the first day of downhill competition at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Cup in British ColumbiaJanuary 13, 2014

In Antarctica and the Arctic, a game of multinational Monopoly

Mon, 2014-01-13 13:40
In Antarctica and the Arctic, a game of multinational Monopoly From fisheries to shipping to mineral resources, the Arctic and the Antarctic are emerging as regions to watch in the years ahead. But even as nations hash out territorial claims, questions remain over who has rights to what.January 13, 2014

Alaska officials warn drivers of caribou crossing Glenn Highway

Mon, 2014-01-13 12:43
Alaska officials warn drivers of caribou crossing Glenn Highway Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are advising caution for motorists along the Glenn Highway near Glennallen, as about 10,000 caribou are wintering in the area for the first time in years. Several collisions have already been reported.January 13, 2014

AK Beat: Goose meets Cessna in mid-air (VIDEO)

Mon, 2014-01-13 08:37
AK Beat: Goose meets Cessna in mid-air (VIDEO) A goose slammed through the windshield of a Cessna mid-flight in the skies over Illinois, and a video uploaded to YouTube Friday captured the dangerous moment.January 13, 2014

A Night of (Competitive) Spoken Word

Mon, 2014-01-13 01:06

A video of Herzog’s performance:

Click for the full audio story:

spoken final

Today we’re attending a spoken word show.

Now, for me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think spoken word poetry is the classic comedy film “So I Married an Ax Murderer.”

But, it turns out it’s not that kind of show. Although I must admit, Mike Meyers was about the full extent of my spoken word experience before this. Nora Herzog on the other hand has been performing spoken word for about a year now. She’s always enjoyed writing poetry, but could never find a good way to share it.

“First of all I can’t sing, so a band is out of the question,” Herzog says.

But then Herzog, a Junior in High School, saw a friend of hers perform spoken word at a school talent show.

“He made me cry,” she recalls.

Herzog during her performance.

The poem was about a girl whose mom had just died, and was dealing with a lot of depression.

“It was just a very powerful and moving poem and I was going through a rough time personally when I heard it. And it really helped me, and I thought maybe I could do that for other people,” Herzog says.

So she started exploring the art of spoken word, and what she quickly found out was that she was able to combine one of her other passions with her poetry: acting.

“When I see people perform I feel like it touches people in a way that words just by themselves can’t do. And so when you take good words and you add them with good actions I think you get an effect that’s stronger than either one,” Herzog says.

And Herzog’s effect hasn’t just been on her audience. She says it’s made her more confident.

“I used to be nervous around people I didn’t know. And I developed a stutter and kind of a whispery voice,” Herzog says.

And now?

“I’ve been compared by three different people to Galadriel in the scene from the Lord of the Rings where she’s offered the ring and says ‘I will be more great, and more terrible!’ And I kind of like that image so I try and play it up,” Herzog says.

Tonight’s show is a competition put on by the group Brave New Alaskan Voices. The winner will move on to a quarterfinal competition, which will then determine a team to head to Philadelphia later this year for a national competition. Herzog has already won her way into the quarterfinals, so tonight she’ll be the sacrificial poet.

The judges weigh in on a performance.

“You know how when you start a contest, if you’re scored on a scale of 1-10, the first person always scores 7s and 8s? Because the judges don’t want to score them too high in case everyone else is way better. But nobody wants to score them too low in case they’re the best one there. So the sacrificial poet is supposed to get rid of some of that,” Herzog says.

Herzog will still be scored even though she isn’t technically competing. The judges will simply use her performance as a measuring stick, and a scoring warm up.

“We have two rules as far as judging goes. One of them is you can’t know anyone who is competing, and the second one is you can’t be an English Teacher. We want people judging on the performance and what they feel,” Herzog says.

Tonight Herzog has chosen to perform her poem titled “Devil’s Practice.”

“This is the part where we teach them about ‘3, 2, 1 speak poet.’ We start every poem by saying ‘3, 2, 1’ and then everyone says ‘speak poet’ and then the poet can start. It lets the poet know that the audience is ready to hear what they have to say.”

Herzog’s poem, which lasts about three minutes keeps the audience quiet and engaged. Maybe even a little scared. She receives an average score of 8.5 from the judges, which I think is great. She isn’t thrilled though.

“That was an unusually low score for me, but because that’s my job as a sacrificial poet to get those low scores I don’t really mind,” Herzog says.

She thinks one of the reasons for her score is the poem’s abstract nature.

“That’s not necessarily an emotional poem; it’s more of a powerful poem.”

She’s still not sure if she’ll be using “Devil’s Practice” in her quarterfinal performance, or something more accessible. But for tonight, she’s managed to satisfy the only judge that matters.

“I’m happy with that performance,” Herzog says, with a smile.

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