Local News

  • Perry sees plutonium pit work staying at LANL ‘into the future’

    Plutonium pit manufacturing and whether Los Alamos National Laboratory will remain the center of plutonium pit production was the highlight of Thursday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

    U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked Secretary of Energy Rick Perry how confident he was that Los Alamos would be able to get 80 pits manufactured a year by 2030.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration is expected to release an analysis of alternatives study by May 11 that may favor moving the facility to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

    “Now there’s talk of stopping and recalculating and looking at another approach. I just don’t think we have the time to do that,” Reed said.

    “Sen. Heinrich (D-N.M.) and I have discussed this at length many times. I’ve been to Los Alamos and I’ve visited P-4 (the plutonium manufacturing facility) out there, and it is populated with some very extraordinary men and women,” Perry said.  “…Los Alamos is going to be the center for plutonium excellence for as long into the future as there is a future.”

    Perry further added that manufacturing at least 30 plutonium pits are guaranteed at the Los Alamos plutonium pit manufacturing facility.

  • ‘Lighthouse’ detectors minimize exposure to dangerous radiation

    Innovative “lighthouse” detectors that use a sweeping beam to pinpoint a radiation source in seconds are reducing  exposure for workers and opening up new areas for robotic monitoring to avoid potential hazards.

    “It’s easier to find a needle in a haystack if the haystack is small,” said detector inventor Jonathan Dowell, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist.

    The detectors can hone in on an area while eliminating background noise or naturally occurring radiation, Dowell said. Directional sensors, similar to a beam on a lighthouse, scan through a narrow angle to look for radiation.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory uses the detectors on HAZMAT robots for emergency response and to conduct geologic surveys.

    “The more we can reduce radiation exposure, the better it is for the people doing the work,” Dowell said. “Using a robot or automated machines can help.”

    The small radiation detectors, patented by Los Alamos National Laboratory and marketed by industrial partner Quaesta Instruments, are easy to carry and use.

    “We’ve taken what used to be the size of a baseball bat and miniaturized it to the size of a jar of peanut butter,” said Dowell.

  • Another bus added for tour of world's first atomic test

    ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Another bus has been added for a special tour of the spot of the world's first atomic test during a special one-day open house.

    The Alamogordo Daily News reports that the New Mexico Museum of Space History has secured a third bus for a special tour of the Trinity Site after souring ticket sales.

    The Museum of Space History hosts a motorcoach tour to the site each April and October as part of a fundraiser for its Foundation.

    Last July marked the 72nd year anniversary of the test at the Trinity Site. It was part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret World War II nuclear development program out of the then-secret city of Los Alamos.
    The bomb was tested in the desert near towns with Hispanic and Native American populations.

  • 70th Skiesta celebration brings the crowds

    A lack of snow couldn’t come close to dampening the fun of the 70th Annual Skiesta at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area on Saturday.

    The celebration, which coincided with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, drew approximately 800 participants to the ski hill to enjoy good food, live music from the band Escape on a Horse and to sample offerings from five local brewing companies.

    “I thought it went very well,” said Pajarito Mountain Ski Area General Manager Tom Long. “Everybody had a really good time, the weather cooperated and it was a really fantastic day.”

    Even though skiing was limited due to a lack of snow, many people did make their way to the trails that did have enough snow to enjoy some skiing and snowboarding.

    “Most of the time we usually have the whole mountain open,” Long said. “Unfortunately over the last 14 years we haven’t been able to do that and one year none of the trails were open. But we did have some snowboarding and skiing on the pea patch this time.”

  • Multicultural Fair brings worlds together

    Students from Chamisa and Piñon Elementary Schools took their annual trip around the world without even leaving White Rock last week when the two schools held their Multicultural Fair on the Piñon campus.

    The event featured booths, music, dances and foods representing cultures from around the world and was organized by Piñon art teacher Stephanie Rittner, Chamisa art teacher Renee Mitsunaga and English Language Learner teacher Caitlyn Bratton.

    “One of the nice things is that Piñon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary come together to do it,” said Rittner, “so instead of having the two separate school communities we bring the whole White Rock community together. And it’s such a diverse community where we can come together and learn and share.”

    Students were given passports and then traveled from table to table to learn about the cultures that were represented.

    They ate sushi rolls prepared by hand at the Japanese table, got to play a didgeridoo at a table filled with instruments from other parts of the world and even spent some time at a table filled with bowls of snacks from other countries.

    At each table students received a sticker to put in their passport. When they had filled their passport, they took it to another table and were given a prize.

  • County puts off decision on power project

    Los Alamos County will take more time to decide whether to remain as partners in a proposed nuclear generating facility pilot project.

    The proposal was pulled from today’s meeting of the Board of Public Utilities and the April 3 council meeting, according to Julie Williams-Hill, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Utilities.

    The project, called the Carbon Free Power Project, is a proposed nuclear generating facility, and it is being explored by the DPU to “provide Los Alamos County with reliable base load power 24 hours a day that will also meet a goal to be a carbon neutral electric provider by 2040,” Williams-Hill said in the release. 

    “Members of the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the County Council will be given a little more time to decide if the county should stay in the project through March 2019 with a maximum cost exposure of $80,000 or exit the project,” Williams-Hill said Tuesday.

    The BPU and council members will convene to decide whether to continue with the project at 6 p.m. April 10 at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1000 Central Ave.

    “A decision to stay in the project will require the approval of a 1) power sales contract, and 2) budget and plan of finance,” Williams-Hill said.

  • Councilor sued over term limits

    A Los Alamos County Sheriff’s candidate, Greg White, is looking to force a recall of David Izraelevitz, a Los Alamos County Councilor who is seeking a second term.

    White submitted a petition to the First Judicial Clerk’s office for docket approval Tuesday afternoon.

    According to White, Izraelevitz is violating state election laws by seeking another term. Izraelevitz was appointed to the Los Alamos County Council in 2011. Izraelevitz was officially elected to office in 2014.

    According to White’s interpretation of the New Mexico Constitution, Article 10, Section 2, Izraelevitz can only serve two consecutive terms in office before having to wait two years to run again.

    “The term he wants to serve is unconstitutional,” White said of Izraelevitz’ 2018 bid.

    Though certain sections of Article 10 may appear to allow Izraelevitz to run for a second term, White said, all of the article’s sections should be read as a whole for the full meaning. White interprets the section to mean Izraelevitz’ 2011 appointment to council counts as Izraelevitz first term.

  • Women2Women event helps find ways to overcome challenges

    Cheryl Ridlon believes everyone has talents that can be used for doing good in the world, even if their world is limited to just the boundaries of Los Alamos County.

    That’s the message she presented as the keynote speaker Saturday to a group of about 70 women attending the Women2Women Seminar at the Los Alamos Church of Christ.

    “I feel like everybody has God-given gifts,” she said. “Those gifts may come in talents that they have, or blessings they’ve had or opportunities they’ve been given.”

    And using those talents is the key, even when it seems like there’s nothing that can be done.

    “There’s so much negative stuff going on in the media that at times we can get overwhelmed and feel like there’s nothing we can do,” she said. “In actuality, maybe we can’t respond to a disaster on the other side of the world, yet here in our own community, our families, our churches, our own circle of friends, there are a lot of needs that we can focus on.”

    This was the sixth-annual seminar presented by the congregation, with each following the list of fruits of the Spirit from the Bible’s book of Galatians.

  • USS Los Alamos fans see new hope with congressional endorsement

    The initiative to name a Virginia class attack sub the “USS Los Alamos” resurfaced again this week, thanks to an endorsement from New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

    The delegation endorsed the project in a letter sent Monday to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.

    USS Los Alamos Committee Chairman James Nesmith was heartened by the news. He and his committee have been working with New Mexico’s congressional members and the state Legislature to make the naming of a nuclear submarine a reality.

    “We hope that we have provided some motivation to the secretary of the Navy to make a decision this year,” Nesmith said.

    Nesmith hopes the secretary will make the decision in time for the Los Alamos County’s 75th anniversary celebration  of the lab Aug. 13.

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) was glad to hear the news. For the past two years, Richard and other representatives have passed memorial bills to bring attention to Los Alamos cause.

    “It’s great to hear that they’ve sent a letter in regards to the naming the USS Los Alamos,” Richard said. “The state Legislature has unanimously, for a couple of years in a row now, supported that endeavor to name the next attack sub the USS Los Alamos.”

  • Utility investigates coal silo failure at New Mexico plant

    FARMINGTON (AP) — One of the units at a coal-fired power plant that serves customers in the southwestern United States has been taken offline as officials investigate a structural failure in one of its coal silos.

    Public Service Co. of New Mexico confirmed Tuesday that the failure over the weekend at the San Juan Generating Station resulted in a fire and some damage that was limited to an area around the silo.

    There were no injuries and utility officials say customers aren't being affected.

    The utility has plans to close the San Juan plant within the next few years as it works to eliminate coal resources from its portfolio.

    Two other units at the decades-old San Juan plant were closed recently as part of an agreement to curb haze-causing pollution in the region.