Latest Oregon news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. PDT

Date: 04/19/2016 06:20 AM

AP-OR–2nd Right Now/1170


Workers study cause of fluctuations in nuclear waste tank

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Fluctuations inside a huge tank of radioactive waste are raising concerns on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, and workers are preparing to pump out the area of the leak.

A federal contractor said Monday that the amount of nuclear waste that was leaking between the two walls of the underground tank for three years grew dramatically this weekend.

The contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, says none of the waste appears to have escaped into the environment. Workers were trying Monday to determine why the waste that leaked between the tank walls rose by about 8 inches over the weekend and then dropped by half an inch.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, including the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, and contains a huge volume of radioactive waste.


Oregon defense contractor pleads guilty to bribery charge

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon defense contractor has admitted to bribing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program manager to secure $171 million in contracts.

The 73-year-old man who goes by the singular name Sky faces a maximum of five years in federal prison at his Oct. 11 sentencing. Lawyers said Monday that a sentence of around two years is more likely.

Sky and his company, Sky Research, have been under investigation since 2010. Prosecutors say a program manager for the corps in Omaha, Nebraska, rigged bids on nine contracts. In exchange, Sky provided him with cash, accommodations and entertainment.

The program manager has yet to be charged.

Ashland-based Sky Research specializes in aerial surveys of old military bombing and gunnery ranges to find old weapons debris.


Ex-Junction City officer agrees to settle defamation case

(Information from: The Register-Guard,

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – Junction City officials have agreed to settle claims brought by a former police officer who accused the city’s former police chief and a sergeant of making defamatory statements.

City Administrator Jason Knope says the City Council agreed to pay Corey Mertz $10,000 in health care benefits over the next year and a half. The agreement reached last week was released Monday to the Register-Guard in response to a public records request.

Mertz had threatened to sue the city over comments made last year by then-police Chief Mark Chase, who was fired earlier this month, and Sgt. Eric Markell. Mertz claims Chase’s comments were defamatory and slanderous, and Markell’s comments “attacked his qualifications” as an officer.

Chase’s attorney declined to comment and Markell didn’t respond to requests for comment.



Man gets 43-year prison sentence for child sex abuse

(Information from: The Register-Guard,

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – A man convicted of rape and other charges for sexually abusing a child in Lane County has been sentenced to nearly 43 years in prison.

The Register-Guard reports that 48-year-old William Isaac Parker III was sentenced Monday. He was found guilty earlier this month of rape, sodomy, sex abuse and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.

Parker is accused of sexually assaulting an acquaintance’s child, whom he had lived with for a brief period. The alleged abuse began when the girl was 11 years old.

In court Monday, Parker accused the victim of lying and said he planned to appeal his conviction.

The judge noted that Parker had initially admitted the abuse to detectives, then later took back his statements.



Teen, 16, no longer charged in fatal stabbing of Oregon man

KEIZER, Ore. (AP) – The Marion County district attorney has decided not to file charges against a 16-year-old Keizer boy who was arrested after the fatal stabbing of a 45-year-old man.

The DA’s office said Monday the boy will be released from a juvenile detention center without conditions.

The stabbing happened Friday night on Brooks Avenue NE in Keizer. The victim was identified as 45-year-old man Jeffery Holly of Monmouth. A police report indicates he knew the boy.

The investigation into Holly’s death remains active.


Reports: UO Greek life features blackout drinking, assaults

(Information from: The Register-Guard,

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – A report commissioned by the University of Oregon says the school’s fraternity and sorority members earn social status by drinking themselves into a stupor.

The Register-Guard reports that the report says many UO fraternities continue to haze new members, sometimes off campus. It also found that rapes are hushed up to protect the reputations of fraternities and sororities.

UO Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes says these problems should be taken seriously and are potential fatal practices.

About 4,000 UO students live in the school’s 20 frats and 12 sororities.

Holmes says the university was responding to long-standing hazing and alcohol violations when cut its association with the local chapter of Beta Theta Pi in March.

A request for comment from the house where former fraternity members live was not returned.



Feds to restore grazing allotment health stats in reports

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Federal land managers have agreed to restore information about grazing allotments not meeting rangeland health standards in 13 western states after a public lands advocacy group complained about the omission.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed the information covering 150 million acres is needed after Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed an administrative complaint.

The group says the information helps the public measure the BLM’s success or failure.

The BLM says it’s currently working on restoring information omitted in the Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation report for 2013 and subsequent years and should be down within six months.

The BLM says a mapping application failure resulted in the omissions that include whether overgrazing is causing an allotment to not meet acceptable standards.


Oregon wildlife officials monitoring bats for deadly fungus

(Information from: Mail Tribune,

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) – Wildlife officials in Oregon say they are keeping a close eye on bats this spring after reports of a deadly fungal strain in Washington.

The Mail Tribune reports that Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists say Oregon bats could be at increased risk of white-nose syndrome. The disease has killed 6 million bats in North American since it was discovered a decade ago.

The department is asking officials and the general public to report sick or dead bats on its website.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed three weeks ago that a dead bat found near Seattle had white-nose syndrome. But Oregon wildlife managers say they need more information to determine how much of a threat the disease poses the state’s 16 bat species.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.