News Briefs – Dec. 7, 2010

By Stephanie Martin
Sun Star Intern

World Aids Day

Dec. 1 marked 2010’s World AIDS Day and the theme for this year was “Universal Access and Human Rights.” World AIDS day is observed every year to increase awareness, raise money, fight prejudice and improve education about the disease. UNAIDS estimates there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children.

AIDS begins as the human immunodeficiency virus, which attacks the immune system. A person is diagnosed with AIDS when his or her immune system is too weak to fight off infection. HIV is passed on through the blood and sexual fluids of an infected person. Transmission of the disease occurs when a sufficient quantity of these fluids enter someone else’s bloodstream.

“For sexually active students, it is important to know your partner’s sexual history so you can gauge your risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs),” said Dr. B.J. Aldrich at UAF’s Health Center. “Using condoms faithfully significantly helps reduce the risk of getting an STI.”

BP Rig Construction Suspended

Construction of a BP drilling rig in the Beaufort Sea three miles off the coast of Alaska has been suspended. BP suspended the “Liberty Project” to review the engineering and design plans to ensure they are safe, said BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart. In a KTVF article, Rinehart said that BP encountered “a few issues” assembling the rig. He wouldn’t define the issues, but said BP wants to ensure the rig meets company standards.

The project is potentially record-setting due to the plan to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters, a New York Times article said.

According to the Times article, two scientists from the Alaska office of the federal Mineral Management Service that oversees drilling said that in 2007, federal regulators allowed BP to write its own environmental review and consultation documents relating to the Endangered Species Act.

Life Sciences Contract

UAF began accepting proposals for the Life Sciences Building Nov. 10 with a deadline of Dec. 8. With the passage of Proposition B in the Nov. 2 state election, voters approved $88 million in funding as a part of a bond package. The project will include new lab facilities, classroom space and faculty offices.

“The procurement technique takes into account contractors qualifications, experience, philosophy, and financial capacity, as well as the contractors proposed markup fees on the future construction contract amount,” said Cameron Wohlford, the project manager. The hired contractors’ first order of business will be to look at the current design phase and provide a cost estimate to ensure the building stays within budget, Wohlford said. A target occupancy plan of early 2014 is also what Wohlford is looking for.

The building will be at the current site of two research greenhouses on UAF’s West Ridge. The greenhouses will be replaced by a new one located south of the Arctic Health Building.

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