Local News

  • Environmental Sustainability Board to study plastic bag ban

    Passions ran high on Tuesday as the Los Alamos County Council considered a citizens’ petition with 153 signatures advocating for a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags in retail establishments.
    Mark Jones, chair of the Pajarito Group of the Sierra Club and Barbara Calef, president of the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos (LWVLA), stressed that they were not asking council to vote on whether to ban plastic bags, but to direct the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) to study the issue and make recommendations.
    “The approach of the league is to study all sides of an issue and then seek consensus on a position,” Calef said. “We hope that the public hearings will lead to consensus in the community on this issue. But even if they do not, they will inevitably raise consciousness.”
    Council approved that request by a vote of 4-3. Councilors James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Rick Reiss voted against the motion. Chrobocinski and Reiss had proposed taking no action, but the substitute motion put forth by Councilor Susan O’Leary and Vice Chair David Izraelevitz received the majority vote.

  • The Best of the Science Fair

    Twenty-seven science students from the Los Alamos Public Schools District were honored for their accomplishments at Tuesday night’s Los Alamos School Board meeting.
    “These are all of our students who made it from our local fair to our regional fair and then onto our state fair,”  Los Alamos Science and Engineering Fair Organizer Dawn Brown said at the meeting. Students from six out of the seven schools in the district managed to place, Brown added.

    Top left: Junior Division, sixth through eighth grade winners.
    Above: International Division winners.
    Bottom left: Senior Division, ninth through 12th grade winners. TRIS DEROMA/Monitor

  • New report critical of LANS, LAFO in accident

    Phase II of the report detailing the accident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant was harshly critical of the procedure at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The accident that caused the shutdown of WIPP in February 2014 was a preventable one. Moreover, the follow-up report, released Thursday, placed much of the blame on LANL and its parent company.
    Thursday’s report was released by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management.
    In the new report, the Accident Investigation Board was tasked by DOE to determine the cause of the TRU waste container failure.
    The board stated in the report that “if LANL had adequately developed and implemented repackaging and treatment procedures that incorporated suitable hazard controls and included a rigorous review and approval process, the release would have been preventable.”
    The March Phase I report, detailing the accident, concluded that an incompatible mix of materials in the now-infamous Drum 68660, which was shipped to the WIPP site near Carlsbad from Los Alamos, was the culprit of the leak.
    Since the accident over a year ago, normal operations at the WIPP site have been stopped. No plans have been announced as to when the facility might be operating again.

  • Today in history April 17
  • Clinton will travel to New Hampshire

    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton will make her first trip as a presidential candidate to the early voting state of New Hampshire next week.
    The Clinton campaign said the former secretary of state will participate in small events Monday and Tuesday, including roundtables with students and small-business employees. She will also hold private meetings with elected officials and activists. The campaign did not provide more specifics of her schedule.
    Clinton announced her second White House run Sunday before traveling to Iowa, where she held similar small-scale events.
    Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in 2008 after placing third in the Iowa caucuses, jumpstarting a lengthy and bruising Democratic nomination contest won by Barack Obama on his way to the presidency.
    The Clintons have long been popular in New Hampshire, where Bill Clinton’s second-place finish in the 1992 primary helped propel him to the nomination and the White House.
    Hillary Clinton last visited New Hampshire in November to stump for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan. Her New Hampshire operation is drawing heavily from Shaheen’s reelection team, with the senator’s campaign manager, Mike Vlacich, serving as Clinton’s New Hampshire state director.

  • Bandelier plans events for National Park Week

    All over the country, units of the National Park Service will be celebrating National Park Week, starting Saturday and continuing through April 26.
    The week will begin with fee free days this weekend, with no entrance fees being charged at Bandelier National Monument and other park areas nationwide.
    Everyone is invited to the Visitor Center theater at 4:30 p.m. Saturday to see all the entries for the Bandelier Centennial logo contest and the winner is announced.
    Saturday is also National Junior Ranger Day, when kids and adults will have an opportunity to do a special scavenger hunt in and around the Visitor Center, as well as the regular Junior Ranger booklet that is available throughout the year. On fee free days throughout the year the park bookstore offers a 15 percent discount throughout the store, and the Bandelier Trading Company gift shop offers 10 percent off on selected items.
    During the week, craftspeople from local pueblos will be demonstrating their work on the porch behind the Visitor Center, and some will also have items for sale.
    Saturday and Sunday, the Lovato family from Santo Domingo Pueblo will be showing traditional jewelry and also the making of turkey feather blankets.

  • State Briefs 4-16-15

    New manager appointed to lead troubled nuke waste dump

    CARLSBAD (AP) — A nuclear expert from Idaho has been named the new president and project manager of the company that oversees the federal government’s troubled nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico.
    Nuclear Waste Partnership announced the change Thursday, saying Philip Breidenbach will replace Bob McQuinn next week.
    McQuinn came on board in 2014 shortly after a radiation release forced the indefinite closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and stalled the cleanup of Cold War-era waste at facilities around the country.
    McQuinn was among those who developed a recovery plan for WIPP and implemented corrective actions over the past year.
    Breidenbach comes from the Idaho National Laboratory where he served as head of nuclear operations at the Materials and Fuels Complex. He also worked at Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

    Gains cited from Albuquerque
    Public Schools truancy program

  • Update 4-16-15

    Wild Day

    Los Alamos Youth Leadership will have its annual Wild Day program from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Los Alamos High School’s Griffith Gymnasium Saturday. Visit losalamosjjab.com for info.


    The fourth annual Fiesta de la Primavera is scheduled for Sunday. It will be at 3 p.m. at Fuller Lodge’s Pajarito Room. It will feature a Spanish music and dance concert with acts from around northern New Mexico. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under.


    A “thank you” reception for Gene and Wendy Schmidt is scheduled for April 28. The event will be at Fuller Lodge from 4-6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.


    The Ethos Percussion Group will perform Sunday at the Duane Smith Auditorium. The performance is hosted by the Los Alamos Concert Association. Event time is 4 p.m. Tickets are $35.

    Dive-In Movie

    The Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center will host a Dive-In Movie Friday. The movie will be “Big Hero 6.” Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the movie will start at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are on sale. Call 662-8173 for details.

    Run For Her Life

  • Bush: ’16 decision to come shortly

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jeb Bush said Thursday he will make up his mind “in relatively short order” whether to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
    The former Florida governor will be in New Hampshire this weekend to speak at town hall-style meetings at two businesses and at a GOP event. He will also attend a night event called Politics and Pies and a morning event called Politics and Eggs, he said.
    “Typical day in New Hampshire, apparently,” Bush told reporters Thursday in Jackson, where he attended a bill signing ceremony with Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.
    Bush said he’s not concerned that several other hopefuls are ahead of him in launching their campaigns.
    “I’m on a journey to kind of measure support,” Bush said. “Other people’s processes are not really that relevant to me. I’ll make up my mind in relatively short order. I’m excited about just the possibility of being in a position to consider it.”
    He said his family supports his exploration of a presidential bid.

  • SOC may have work stoppage

    A potential work stoppage by the company that is charged with providing security at Los Alamos National Laboratory may be looming.
    SOC-Los Alamos, the protective force contractor, is currently tied up with its union in a labor dispute, lab officials announced Wednesday after being contacted by the Los Alamos Monitor.
    Lab spokesperson Kevin Roark said LANL is currently in the process of recruiting a “security police officer augmentation force” to patrol LANL property in the event of strike and work interruption. That force would be comprised of current LANL employees who are trained and certified to act as protective force officers.
    The augmentation force could be called into action on April 25 if the labor negotiations aren’t resolved.
    Several messages left for SOC LLC, the parent company of SOC-Los Alamos, weren’t returned as of press time.
    LANS is not involved in the current negotiations between the SOC and the International Guards Union of America, Local 69.
    Roark said SOC-Los Alamos and the National Nuclear Security Administration have been working together to build the augmentation force, if needed.