Around the World April 21, 2002

PHOTO/Journal file

Fairbanks mine, State seek reversal of order

FAIRBANKS -- Fairbanks Gold Mining and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources have asked that a Superior Court judge reconsider his request for an economic impact analysis of the True North gold mine.

Both parties say that DNR performed a study of the mine’s economic impact prior to issuing the mine’s right-of-way permits.

"We feel that DNR did a good job," said Tom Irwin, vice president of Fairbanks Gold Mining. "DNR will put together an appropriate packet of response to prove it."

Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly told the state to conduct the economic analysis of the mine in a decision handed down late last month. The group Neighborhood Mine Watch filed a lawsuit appealing the permits issued for the mine, located 30 miles north of Fairbanks.

Pengilly asked DNR to address how noise and lights from the mine’s ore hauling trucks, which operate 24-hours a day, would affect tourism businesses near the mine.

DNR said in its reconsideration request that, before it issued the permits, it acknowledged that aurora borealis viewing businesses would be affected by the light and noise of the ore trucks. The department called for such measures as moving the haul road away from the businesses, the request said.

A third of Glacier Bay fishermen turned down

JUNEAU -- The National Park Service has turned down more than a third of the people who wanted compensation for commercial fishing closures in Glacier Bay. But the agency expects some successful appeals and says it will pay out the entire $23 million in the compensation fund.

A federal law in 1998 phased out commercial fishing in Glacier Bay. Today, only part of the bay is open for commercial fishing for three species and only by certain fishermen for the rest of their working lives.

Congress later authorized $23 million to compensate fishermen, crew members, processing workers, businesses and communities that had made money from Glacier Bay fisheries.

The applicants approved so far will be awarded about $20.25 million, leaving $2.75 million for any successful appellants, the park service said.

"We have a lot of appeals out there, so that gives us a few million to absorb some of the appeals," said Ronald Dick, who manages the compensation program for the park service.

The bay is the centerpiece of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and it was the source of about $2.4 million in seafood harvests a year, according to an economic study prepared for the park service. The bay’s fisheries were particularly important to fishermen and processors in small communities nearby, such as Hoonah and Pelican.

Fish observer program extended through 2007

ANCHORAGE -- Federal fishery managers voted April 15 to extend through 2007 a regulation requiring observers on groundfish vessels. The rule had been due to expire at the end of this year.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council also gave the National Marine Fisheries Service authority to station its own observers aboard the vessels and at fish plants that process North Pacific groundfish or halibut.

The change will strengthen the relationship between NMFS and the observer companies to ensure sufficient management controls, according to the agency.

NMFS observers could be sent out in addition to or instead of contracted groundfish observers. Allowing NMFS workers to act as observers also will help develop sampling projects, solve perceived sampling issues and create vessel- and plant-specific sampling profiles, NMFS officials said.

Violations observed by NMFS staff aboard a vessel would be reported to the vessel captain, and could result in enforcement action, the same procedure now in place for the contracted observers.


March consumer prices rise by just 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON -- Consumer prices rose by a modest 0.3 percent in March despite sharply higher costs for gasoline and other energy products. Industrial activity shot up by the largest amount in two years.

The latest snapshot of economic activity paints a picture of an economy on the comeback from a recession that began in March 2001.

The advance in the Consumer Price Index, a closely watched inflation gauge, compared with a 0.2 percent increase in February, the Labor Department reported April 16.

The latest CPI report was a better reading on inflation than the 0.5 percent rise many analysts were expecting.

In another report, the Federal Reserve said industrial output at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities rose by a bigger-than-expected 0.7 percent in March. That matched the rise registered in May 2000, before the battered industry fell into a long slump.

Reagan airport given green light for flights

ARLINGTON, Va. -- With new security measures in place, Reagan National Airport has been authorized by the Department of Transportation to run the same number of flights that it did before Sept. 11.

"We believe Reagan National is one of the most secure, if not the most secure, airports in the country," said Bill Mosley, department spokesman, April 15.

The new safety precautions include pre-flight screenings for aircraft crews, expanded police and canine patrols and random passenger checks with hand-held metal detectors.

The department’s decision means the airport is authorized to restore service levels to those in place before the terrorist attacks, about 800 flights to 69 cities. Reagan had been the last commercial airport in the nation to face such restrictions.

Other limitations remain in place, though. Planes with more than 155 seats are barred from Reagan because of the airport’s proximity to the capital, Mosley said, and a curfew restricts flights between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.


Corporate bankruptcies rise 5 percent in Japan

TOKYO -- Corporate bankruptcies in Japan rose 5 percent in March, the third straight monthly increase, a private research agency said April 12.

The number of bankruptcy cases in March amounted to 1,788 cases, according to the report by Teikoku Databank.

For the fiscal year that ended March 31, bankruptcies rose 5.9 percent to 20,052 cases, marking the second worst year since 1984 when 20,363 companies failed, the report said.

Japan is struggling to shake off a decade-long economic slump that began with the collapse of the property and stock prices in the late 1980s.

Teikoku Databank also said that failures of companies listed on stock exchanges jumped to 21 in the most recent fiscal year from 15 the pevious year.

General contractor Sato Kogyo, which collapsed with debt of 449.9 billion yen ($3.41 billion), and First Credit, which left behind liabilities of 260.5 billion yen ($1.97 billion), were among the largest listed company failures in March.

-- Compiled from business wire services.

04/21/2002 - 8:00pm