Local News

  • LANS gets 6-month extension on legacy cleanup contract

    The Department of Energy has given the company that manages and operates Los Alamos National Laboratory a six-month extension on its legacy cleanup bridge contract, the department announced Tuesday.

    The cleanup contract extension will enable a smooth transition to a new legacy cleanup contract, the DOE said in a news release.

    This contract is separate from the operations and management contract, which is expected to go out for bid later this year. The National Nuclear Security Administration is working on a draft request for proposals for the operations and management contract.

    The legacy cleanup contract for Los Alamos National Security will now end March 31, 2018.

    The total value of the six-month contract extension is about $65 million, according to the DOE.

  • New Mexico receives road money as part of settlement

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico has received almost $27 million from the U.S. Energy Department as part of a settlement reached over a radiation release that forced a nearly three-year shutdown at the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

    State officials and the agency signed the agreement in early 2016 over dozens of permit violations stemming from the 2014 release of radiation at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad two years earlier. At the time, the total $74 million settlement was the largest ever negotiated between a state and the Energy Department.

    Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement Monday that the settlement was meant to hold the federal government accountable for mistakes made at the repository and at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where workers inappropriately packed a container of waste in which the contents reacted. The container burst after it was placed underground for permanent disposal.

    Twenty-two workers at the repository were exposed, and monitors at the surface recorded low levels of radiological contamination. Officials maintained that nearby communities were not at risk.

  • Trump vows to cut taxes 'tremendously' for middle class

    By MARCY GORDON and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump vowed to deliver on a major tax cut for middle-class Americans on Tuesday as the White House and congressional leaders prepared to release details on a tax overhaul proposal that would slash the corporate rate and simplify the nation's tax code.

    Trump met with Republicans and Democrats from the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee at the White House, telling reporters he would be releasing a "very comprehensive, very detailed report" on Wednesday that would offer the framework for his top legislative agenda.

    "We will cut taxes tremendously for the middle-class. Not just a little bit but tremendously," Trump said. He predicted jobs "will be coming back in because we have a non-competitive tax structure right now and we're going to go super competitive."

    The president and congressional leaders were putting the final touches on plans for the first major overhaul to the tax system in three decades, a major Trump campaign pledge that the White House hopes will give Trump a sorely needed legislative achievement.

  • State committee discuses chromium plume cleanup

    A state legislative committee met with Los Alamos National Laboratory officials in Los Alamos Thursday, focusing mainly on cleaning up a decades-old hazardous waste spill on lab property.

    The legislators were members of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee.

    The lab is treating the ground plume, which is on an aquifer below Mortandad Canyon that is part of a regional aquifer used by Los Alamos Santa Fe and other communities.

    The plume is 1,000 feet below the ground, and some has made its way into the regional aquifer below.

    LANL discovered the plume in 2005, and has been installing a series of wells to define where the boundaries of the plume are, so it can be stopped and the area inside the well boundary cleaned or rendered harmless to the environment.

    The chromium 6 was used as a corrosion inhibitor at a LANL power plant from the mid-‘50s to the early ‘70s. The chromium was regularly flushed out into the canyons. There is approximately 160,000 pounds of chromium in the plume.

    Officials believe the plume is about 20 to 50 feet deep, and a mile long by a half a mile wide.

    In a presentation to the committee, Doug Hintze, manager of the Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, disputed recent newspaper reports that the plume was spreading and growing in size.

  • ESB backs off trash cart fine plan

    The Environmental Sustainability Board tabled an ordinance Thursday that would have fined residents $50 to $200 for bringing their trash out too early, and for not keeping the roll carts in a secured, covered area when not in use. 

    “I was appalled by the ordinance we got back from county legal, we had what we thought was a reasonable approach,” Chairman John Bliss said.

    According to Fine and ESB Liaison Angelica Gurule, the ordinance had to meet a certain legal standard to be enforceable, and what came out of the department was not their intention.

    “Ordinances cannot be suggestive,” Gurule said. “You cannot have suggestive language, it cannot be enforceable.”

    The original draft ordinance contained no mention of structures where the carts are to be stored when not in use, only that they be “neatly stowed.” The second violation gave the owner the option buying a bear-proof container or paying the fine. 

  • New Mexico college bake sale charged prices based on race

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A bake sale at the University of New Mexico set up by a nonprofit group to charge students based on race and ethnicity ended after outraged opponents disrupted it.

    The group, Turning Point USA, set up what it called an "Affirmative Action Bake Sale" on campus Thursday with a sign advertising higher prices for Asians and Caucasians and cheaper prices for African Americans and Hispanics.

    William Witt, a Turning Point regional director, said the bake sale was aimed at generating a conversation about affirmative action programs. "Certain groups get different opportunities than other groups, and we believe it doesn't give equal opportunity," he said.

    But protesters outnumbered the people who set up the bake sale, and the members of Turning Point ended up leaving.

    "We had tons of people who wanted to have great conversations. But once people start yelling, destroying our stuff and breaking everything on the table, it makes it tough to have good discussions," Witt said.

    Some students encouraged a dialogue and asked angry students to calm down.

    Bake sale opponent and student Ryan Sindon said the group's departure came after "we exercised our free speech to the point where they felt they needed to leave."

  • Toulouse Oliver: No evidence Russians attempted to hack New Mexico election networks

    New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday there is no evidence New Mexico was targeted by Russian hackers in the 2016 elections.

    According to Toulouse Oliver, the Department of Homeland Security said Russian hackers attempted to gain access to election networks in 21 states, but there is no evidence that any votes were affected. DHS is contacting the 21 states impacted to provide specifics on the breaches, she said.

    DHS called senior election officials in all 50 states and six U.S. territories Friday to provide information about attempts by Russians to gain access to various election networks around the country during the 2016 election, presumably with the goal of swaying election results in the favor of current President Donald Trump, Toulouse Oliver said.

     “Fortunately, it appears that New Mexico was not one of the states targeted by Russian hackers last year,” said Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver. “However, cybersecurity threats are still a major concern and should be handled with the utmost seriousness and attention to detail. My staff and I will continue cooperating with federal agencies and other states to maintain the integrity of New Mexico’s elections and protect the privacy of all voters. Election security is and always will be a top priority for me.”

  • Metzger’s celebrates 70 years of serving Los Alamos

    Metzger’s Do It Best hardware store will celebrate its 70-year anniversary in Los Alamos Saturday, and the public is invited to join the festivities.

    Metzger’s offers a wide variety of items to fulfill any and all practical needs, like building materials, cleaning supplies, hand tools, hardware, housewares, outdoor living, paint and painting supplies, plumbing supplies and much more. 

    The first Metzger store was founded by Lee J. Metzger in 1947, and it has been an integral part of the community since its inception.

    Technically two years older than the county, Metzger’s boasts being the oldest business in Los Alamos, save for maybe KRSN. The hardware store has been through ownership changes, but has stayed in the same family for four generations.

    A comment from Los Alamos resident and Metzger’s customer Roslyn Reeves sums it up nicely: “With the kind of customer service they have, it’s easy to see why they have been around for 70 years.”

    The beginning

    Metzger’s story began during World War II, when Lee Metzger opened stores within the Hanford Project site in Washington and found success offering basic provisions to workers in the plant.

  • Opera On The Rocks tickets going fast

    The sixth-annual Opera on the Rocks is almost here and tickets are selling fast.

    This year’s Opera On The Rocks at the Juniper Campground Amphitheater in Bandelier National Monument is set for Sept. 30.

    The Opera event will perfect for Star Trek fans. It is presented by the park along with Opera Alta, Los Alamos Opera Guild of the Guilds of the Santa Fe Opera, Inc., and Atomic City Transit.

    The tickets are nearly gone – check guildsofsfo.org/LA to get the few that are left.

    This year the presentation will be excerpts from Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” – but done as Star Trek.

    This somewhat unexpected version was originated by the Pacific Opera Project (POP) in California.

    POP says, “Though the opera’s trappings may be out of this world, Mozart’s memorable melodies remain intact. You really don’t have to be a Star Trek fan or an opera fan.”

  • Bringing the past to life