Local News

  • Mortandad Canyon chromium plume may be wider than expected

    Chromium levels five times the acceptable state limit was detected in an injection well located in Mortandad Canyon at a chromium spill on Los Alamos National Laboratory property.

    The spill, located in the western part of the Pajarito Plateau in the eastern section of LANL property, has been monitored since its discovery in 2004. The injection well was supposed to mark the spill’s outermost boundary.

    Last year, David Rhodes, director for the office of quality and regulatory compliance at the Environmental Management Office in Los Alamos, described the plume as being circular, and about a half-mile in diameter, according to a 2016 Los Alamos Monitor article.

    Members of Nuclear Watch New Mexico discovered the chromium level numbers in a search of a public database maintained by LANL.

  • Lane closure at 33rd Street and Walnut Drive

    Los Alamos County Streets crews will be repairing a section of asphalt at 33rd Street and Walnut Drive starting Tuesday, at 9 a.m. and ending about 3 p.m. The operation is expected to end Sept. 21.

    The lane closure will include a flagging operation to allow for continual traffic flow during this project.

    This repair is due to a water main leak that was repaired earlier this month.

  • Interior chief urges shrinking 4 national monuments in West

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is recommending that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of acres of land revered for natural beauty and historical significance to mining, logging and other development.

    Zinke's recommendation, revealed in a leaked memo submitted to the White House, prompted an outcry from environmental groups who promised to take the Trump administration to court to block the moves.

    The Interior secretary's plan would scale back two huge Utah monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — along with Nevada's Gold Butte and Oregon's Cascade-Siskiyou. The monuments encompass more than 3.6 million acres — an area larger than Connecticut — and were created by Democratic administrations under a century-old law that allows presidents to protect sites considered historic, geographically or culturally important.

    Zinke's plan also would allow logging at a newly designated monument in Maine and urges more grazing, hunting and fishing at two sites in New Mexico. It also calls for a new assessment of border-safety risks at a monument in southern New Mexico.

  • Contract extended for management of US nuclear dump

    CARLSBAD (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has extended a contract for the management of the government's only underground nuclear waste repository that will allow the Nuclear Waste Partnership to continue operating the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad through September 2020.

    WIPP resumed operations earlier this year following a shutdown that followed a 2014 radiation release caused by inappropriate packaging of waste by workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The extension of the contract with Nuclear Waste Partnership will include a new safety focus and cost incentives. It's good through Sept. 30, 2020, and can be extended beyond that.

    A federal audit this week found that WIPP doesn't have enough space for radioactive tools, clothing and other debris left over from decades of bomb-making and research.

  • Endangered Mexican wolf killed following livestock attacks

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An endangered Mexican gray wolf has been killed by federal employees after a Native American tribe requested the animal be removed from the wild in the wake of a string of cattle deaths near the Arizona-New Mexico border.

    The death of the female wolf marks the first time in a decade that efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to curb livestock attacks by wolves has had lethal consequences for one of the predators.

    The decision to remove the member of the Diamond Pack was first made in June after three calves were killed over several days, sparking concern among wildlife managers about what they described as an unacceptable pattern of predation.

    An investigation determined the female wolf was likely the culprit based on GPS and radio telemetry tracking, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

    Another calf was killed in July, prompting the White Mountain Apache Tribe to call for the removal. That was followed by one confirmed kill and another probable kill by members of the pack on national forest land adjacent to the reservation.

    Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle issued another order in August calling for the wolf's removal by the most expeditious means possible.

  • Deal or no deal? ‘Dreamers’ wait as Trump, lawmakers joust

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The fate of 800,000 young immigrants hung in the balance Thursday as top lawmakers, White House officials and President Donald Trump himself squabbled over whether an agreement had been struck to protect them — and if so, exactly what it was.

    In the face of an intense backlash from conservatives inside the Capitol and out, Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP House members adamantly insisted that there was no agreement to enshrine protections for the immigrants brought to America as children and now here illegally.

    John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, put it this way: There was “a deal to make a deal.”

    Trump himself said he was “fairly close” to an agreement that could protect the young “Dreamers” while also adding border security, as long as his long-promised wall with Mexico was also separately addressed. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer — whose dinner with Trump Wednesday night was at the heart of the controversy — insisted there was discussion and even agreement on legislation that would offer eventual citizenship to the immigrants in question.

  • Mother of binge-drinking teen victim launches awareness program

    Tania Huff, the parent of a Los Alamos High School teen who died of alcohol poisoning last year, has managed to channel her grief into helping other teens avoid the same fate.

    '“I’m speaking for my son, because he can’t speak for himself now,” Huff said.

    Together with her friend and emergency paramedic Samantha Robinson, the two have launched an anti-drinking program called “Project Aware Alive.” 

    Robinson’s son was also at the party where Arleigh Huff died.
    “So, these three boys go to a sleepover. I switched off my radio that night… I was awoken at 5:27 a.m. with a phone call from a parent saying ‘please come, Arleigh is not breathing and the boys are drunk. Between that time (Aug. 27) and the 29th of October when Arleigh was pronounced dead, this is what came out of it, Project A,” Robinson told school board members Tuesday.

    Students in six school districts have viewed the program. Robinson and Huff have also visited several businesses and youth groups.

    Huff said they don’t plan to stop any time soon.

    “We have no size limit,” Huff said about who she will talk to about her message.

    “We’ll do five, we’ll do 500,” Robinson said.

  • Cruz – Bences Gonzales’s grandson – is new artist in residence at Bandelier

    Bandelier National Monument welcomed Artist in Residence Paul Cruz this month.

    Cruz is no stranger to the area. He was born in Española and still has many relatives in the area.

    For those familiar with the history of Los Alamos Ranch School and the Manhattan Project, his grandfather was Bences Gonzales, a hardworking and well-loved character through those years of Los Alamos history.

    Cruz’s mother and her siblings grew up in Los Alamos. His uncle, Ray Gonzales, wrote the book, “A Boy on the Hill,” about growing up on “the Hill” during the Ranch School years.

    Taught by his father, Cruz began learning jewelry making and lapidary work at an early age. He has used a variety of techniques for his original designs, including soldered applique, stamping and setting stones in bezels.

    Cruz’s materials include silver, gold and copper, as well as a wide variety of semi-precious and precious stones, and also bone.

    He enjoys making pieces that incorporate a theme or story. Cruz’s favorite styles are inlay and raised inlay, and he is particularly fond of working with turquoise.

  • Sen. Domenici, a tireless advocate for LA County, dies

    Former Republican Sen. Pete V. Domenici, a six-term senator who was known for his work on budget and energy issues and support of the state’s national laboratories, died Wednesday. He was 85.

    Domenici died at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, his son Pete Domenici Jr., said. The senator had undergone abdominal surgery in recent weeks.

    When the late U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici first took office in 1972, Los Alamos County did not have its own fire department, and a large part of the land the county now owns belonged to the Department of Energy.

    By the time he left office in early 2009, Los Alamos County had its own fire department and enough land that enabled the county to think seriously about its future, as far as its economic development and quality of life was concerned.

    Los Alamos resident Veronica Rodriguez worked for Sen. Domenici for about 10 years. She joined his staff in 1998 and started work in his Washington D.C. office. By the time Domenici left office in 2009, Rodriguez was Domenici’s regional director for northern New Mexico.

    Throughout the time she worked with him, Rodriguez said she saw firsthand the why and the how behind Domenici’s success when it came to his advocacy for the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the county.

  • Environmentalists sue to block US border wall with Mexico

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three advocacy groups sued the federal government Thursday to block construction of a border wall with Mexico, alleging that that Trump administration overstepped its authority by waiving environmental reviews and other laws.

    The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund seek to prevent construction of wall prototypes in San Diego before it begins and halt plans for replacement barriers in San Diego and Calexico, California.

    The complaint largely mirrors a lawsuit filed by another advocacy group, the Center for Biological Diversity, but the three organizations each say they have hundreds of thousands of members, bringing more attention and resources to a legal fight over one of President Donald Trump's key campaign pledges.

    The government has waived reviews seven times under a 2005 law to speed construction of border barriers, including twice under Trump. The law allows the government to waive dozens of laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires extensive reviews of environmental impacts.

    The lawsuit contends the waiver authority expired in 2008, when the government met congressional requirements for additional border barriers.