Prince William Sound Goes

One Year Without an Oil Spill

ANCHORAGE -- Not one drop of crude oil spilled into Prince William Sound from oil tankers in 2003 -- the first spill-free year since the ships started carrying crude from the trans-Alaska pipeline terminal in 1977.

More modern tankers and better management helped the sound's four tanker operators ship 450 loads, or about 330 million barrels, of North Slope crude from the tanker dock at Valdez last year without a spill, regulators and industry officials said.

"It's a very notable achievement," said Larry Dietrick, director of spill prevention and response for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

All four companies are to receive the Legacy Award from the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force. The governors of several western states formed the task force after major Pacific Coast spills, including the 11 million-gallon Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound in 1989.

Dietrick said part of the credit goes to the double-hulled tankers that Congress mandated after the Valdez spill. Several prior spills occurred when cracks developed in older, single-hulled ships.

* POMONA, Calif. -- Fourteen suspected illegal immigrants and seven others suspected of holding them for ransom were discovered in a raid on a Pomona home, police said. Police went to the house after receiving a tip that illegal immigrants were being held against their will after paying $1,500 to $3,000 to be transported to the United States, said police Sgt. A.C. Cox.

* SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- A single-engine plane trying to make an emergency landing Saturday on Interstate 5 clipped a van and flipped upside down, and the pilot, Marc South, 53, of Eloy, Ariz., was arrested for flying under the influence of alcohol, authorities said.

* MILWAUKEE -- A 14-year-old boy suffered brain injuries and a fractured skull in the second severe beating by a mob in this city in less than a week. The boy, who was attacked Thursday after a shoving match with a younger boy, remained in a coma. A 54-year-old man died Thursday from head injuries that apparently occurred a week ago when he was beaten and robbed by about 10 young men near his home.

* SAFFORD, Ariz. -- A pair of wildfires merged as firefighters fought back flames near a mountaintop observatory and nearly 100 summer homes in southeastern Arizona. Hail and rain fell around the Mount Graham International Observatory, aiding the battle to tame the fires. But lightning started a new blaze Saturday in the steep terrain on the mountain's south side.

* SHAMONG TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Maryann Neabor, 53, was charged with murder for allegedly killing her visiting brother-in-law, Jonathan Neabor, by poisoning his fruit drink with antifreeze, police said. State police said the "financial resources" of Jonathan Neabor, a retired postal worker, were a potential motive for the crime.

* ATLANTIC CITY -- A small plane crashed in a shallow bay near an airport Sunday afternoon, killing two people and injuring one, state police said. The plane was about to land at Atlantic City's Bader Field but instead crashed nose-first into about four feet of water.

-- From News Services