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6A ∫ THE ALPENA NEWS ∫ Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oil industry: Nix higher offshore inspection fees

Controller faulted in Hudson River midair collision WASHINGTON (AP) — Errors by an air traffic controller distracted by a personal phone call set the stage for a midair collision last year over the Hudson River between a tour helicopter and a small plane that claimed nine lives, a federal safety panel said Tuesday. While the National Transportation Safety Board placed a large share of the blame for the Aug. 8, 2009, accident on the controller, it also faulted Federal Aviation Administration rules in the busy air corridor over the Hudson between New York and New Jersey that rely on pilots to “see and avoid” other aircraft rather than be actively separated by air traffic controllers. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman expressed concern that midair collisions are still occurring more than

50 years after the collision of two airliners over the Grand Canyon prompted reforms that led to the creation of the FAA and the nation’s air traffic control system. Midair collisions involving airliners are rare today thanks largely to onboard cockpit warning systems. But there have been 59 collisions involving helicopters and small planes, which are not equipped with the same warning systems as airliners, in the U.S. since 2005, board members noted. Both aircraft involved in last year’s accident were equipped with a different kind of technology — traffic monitoring systems — that provide indications of the impeding collision, investigators told the board. But those indications, which can be so frequent that investigators said pilots often tune them out, were ignored

AP Photo

The National Transportation Safety Board convenes a hearing at the NTSB in Washington Tuesday to examine a fatal mid-air collision that killed five Italian tourists from Bologna aboard a sightseeing helicopter near the Statue of Liberty over the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River in August of 2009. The NTSB board is chaired by Debbie Hersman at center. or went unobserved. wrong. However, the conHersman said the colli- troller received a radio call sion was due to “a merger from Newark controllers at of missteps” than began the same moment, as well with the controller who as being distracted by the cleared Steven Altman’s personal phone call and Piper Lance for takeoff. Alt- other traffic he was hanman, 60, of Ambler, Pa., re- dling. He didn’t correct — quested that the controller and probably didn’t hear — continue to advise him of the incorrect readback, inpotential traffic conflicts vestigators said. after takeoff. As a result, Altman was But the controller, en- probably tuned to the wrong gaged in a bantering per- radio frequency and couldsonal phone call about a n’t be reached by condead cat while directing trollers when they tried to traffic, was distracted and warn him of the impending violated several procedures, collision, investigators said. investigators said. He Also killed in the acci1 6 9 1 M - 3 2 We s t • A l p e n a , M I 4 9 7 0 7 waited more than two min- dent was the helicopter’s utes to give Altman a new pilot, Jeremy Clarke, 32, of radio frequency after he Lanoka Harbor, N.J., who Pain Management handed off the plane to con- apparently couldn’t see Alttrollers at nearby Newark man’s plane, investigators Liberty International Air- said. Clarke would have had port. When the controller to look behind his right did relay the frequency to shoulder to see it coming. Altman, he spoke very rapThe helicopter was visiidly, making his words dif- ble from the window of AltCall 989-358-6824 ficult to understand, man’s plane. But a Participating with most major insurances Robert J. Coombs, D.O. investigators said. presentation by investigaMedical Director Altman read back the fre- tors demonstrated that it quency to the controller in- would have been difficult correctly as 127.8 instead for Altman to discern the of 127.85. Controllers are helicopter against the backsupposed to listen to a ground of the New York WHEN? FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 pilot’s readback of a fre- skyline until a few seconds quency and correct it if it’s before the accident. WHERE? P PENTACOSTALS ENTACOSTALS O OF FA ALPENA LPENA 745 THUNDER BAY AVE. ALPENA, MICHIGAN

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The oil and gas industry says an Obama administration plan to double fees charged for inspections of offshore operations could cost jobs. The industry recognizes the need for improved inspections and oversight following the massive BP oil spill, American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard said. But doubling the fees is not appropriate, especially during a recession, he said. “This is not the time to go back and impose additional costs on industry,” Gerard said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. The oil and gas industry contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. government in royalty payments, taxes and other fees, Gerard said, adding that government policies should encourage development of domestic energy while making sure it is safe. The White House asked Congress late Monday to approve the higher inspection fees as part of a request for $80 million in new spending for the agency that oversees offshore drilling. The proposal would more than double the amount collected from oil and gas companies, to $45 million next year from about $20 million this year. Obama said in a letter to Congress that the fee increases and other changes are needed to strengthen oversight of offshore oil and gas operations; address deficiencies in mineral revenue collection; and complete the reorganization of the agency formerly known as the Min-

erals Management Service. The drilling agency’s new director said Tuesday that he was not involved in the fee increase decision, but supports additional revenue for his organization, now known as Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. “We need the additional resources to do the job that we’ve been asked to do,” said Michael Bromwich, the drilling agency’s new chief. Under its former name, the drilling agency was long plagued by staffing shortages and an overly cozy relationship with the industries it oversees. Bromwich acknowledged those problems, but said the ocean energy bureau is turning a corner — and needs additional money to get even better. “We’ve been faulted for not doing the job people expected us to do, and the central reason for that is we haven’t had adequate resources. If we don’t get the resources we need we won’t be able to do the job effectively,” Bromwich said Tuesday in a separate conference call. Congress recently approved $29 million in emergency spending to hire hundreds of new offshore drilling inspectors and take others steps to improve the drilling agency. No new inspectors have been hired yet, but Bromwich said officials were conducting a “full-court press” to find and hire qualified inspectors to bolster the 60 or so inspectors now responsible for about 3,500 drilling rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

straining order against him. claim Prosecutors Abdur-Raheem abducted Zara Malani-lin Abdur from her grandmother’s East Orange apartment on Feb. 16, choking and assaulting the woman and then hitting her with his van as she attempted to block his escape. later Abdur-Raheem parked on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway over the Driscoll Bridge — which spans the Raritan River between Sayreville and Woodbridge — and threw or dropped the baby from the front passenger

window, according to court papers. Police launched a massive search for the child. But she wasn’t found until April, when people walking along the riverbank not far from the bridge came across an infant’s body matching her description. An autopsy determined she had drowned. Deputy Attorney General Andrew C. Fried asked state Superior Court Judge Frederick DeVesa Tuesday to bar Abdur-Raheem from all further contact with the baby’s mother, saying he had sent her a 10-page letter from jail. Fried declined to discuss the letter’s content, but said it could prompt the state to pursue additional charges of harassment or witness tampering. Abdur-Raheem’s attorney, Richard Klein, told the judge that the letter had been sent in response to a jail visit the baby’s mother had initiated. Fried countered that the mother had only visited to ask AbdurRaheem if their child was still alive, before the baby’s body had been found.

NJ dad pleads not guilty in baby’s bridge death

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey father accused of tossing his 3-month-old daughter to her death off a bridge pleaded not guilty Tuesday, as a judge ordered him to have no further contact with the child’s

mother. Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem sat silently as his attorney entered the plea in state Superior Court in New Brunswick. The 22-year-old Galloway Township resident is charged with murder and five other counts related to the infant’s abduction and death. He remains jailed on $2.7 million bail. Abdur-Raheem is also charged with attempted murder for allegedly assaulting the baby’s maternal grandmother, who was baby-sitting while the child’s mother sought a re-

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Mass. doc gets 6 months in abortion patient death

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts doctor was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case of a woman who died after he performed an abortion on her. Dr. Rapin Osathanondh was sentenced in the 2007 death of Laura Hope Smith, 22, of Sandwich. He pleaded guilty Monday, just as his trial was about to begin. Under a sentencing recommendation that prosecutors and Osathanondh’s attorneys agreed to, he was sentenced to six months, but will be eligible for parole after serving three months. His jail term will be followed by nine months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. He had faced a maximum of 20 years. He is also banned from working as a doctor or teaching medicine ever again. Smith was 13 weeks pregnant when she went to see Osathanondh for an abortion in his Cape Cod office. She was pronounced dead later that day.


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