Local News

  • New Mexico, Texas seek licenses to store spent nuclear fuel

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The race for what to do with spent fuel generated by the nation's nuclear power plants is heating up as backers of a plan to build a temporary storage site in New Mexico made the rounds in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in hopes of gaining support for their proposal.
    Holtec International and a coalition of local leaders from southeastern New Mexico first announced plans two years ago to construct a state-of-the-art, below-ground space for temporarily housing the tons of spent fuel that has been piling up at reactors around the U.S.
    The company recently submitted its application for licensing to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, starting what will be a yearslong review process. It will take federal regulators 60 days to determine if the application is complete and then the more in-depth work will begin.
    The agency is already reviewing an application from a West Texas company that treats and disposes of radioactive waste in a remote area not far from the New Mexico border. Waste Control Specialists has proposed storing some 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel.
    Federal officials have long acknowledged that the future of nuclear energy in the U.S. depends on the ability to manage and dispose of used fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

  • On the Docket 4-5-17

    March 6
    Ashley Martinez  pleaded no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to speeding 11-15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant’s sentence deferred until June 3. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs.

    March 7
    Gordon Runer pleaded no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit and failing to appear in court. Defendant was sentenced to defensive driving school and fined $25.  Defendant’s sentence deferred until May 4. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Ruben Griego was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 16-20 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sentence deferred until May 5. Defendant was also sentenced to defensive driving school. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Russell Dupre  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of careless driving and not having a proper driver’s license. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school. Defendant must also pay $130 in defensive driving costs.

  • LAMC deals with OB-GYN shortage

    A temporary shortage of OB-GYNs in Los Alamos County has had some residents wondering about whether they will be covered, and if their Blue Cross, Blue Shield insurance will pay for it.
    Officials with the Los Alamos Medical Center said the public’s needs are being met, and they are working on hiring more OB-GYNs.
    The medical center is also accepting Blue Cross and Blue Shield without any problems. Another local OB-GYN, Dr. Danielle Bridge, a physician that has a private practice in town, also accepts Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance.
    “We’ve got several providers that are pulling locum duties, which means every day, we have coverage within the hospital. If someone needs to give birth, we have a physician here.” LAMC CEO John Whiteside said. “...We have 24-7 coverage for maternity, that’s our commitment to the community.”
    “Locum” duties means other the providers can step in to provide the duties of an OB-GYN when necessary.
    The physicians are also holding “clinic days,” when women can get checkups.
    “We have every day, through June, covered,” Whiteside said. “Hopefully, we’ll have two providers in here sooner than later.”
    The two will replace OB-GYN Dr. Patrick Dawson, who recently left Los Alamos.

  • 4 LAHS students win spots to science, engineering fair

    Four Los Alamos High School students won coveted spots last weekend to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 14-19, 2017, in Los Angeles.
    The winners include Sophia Li in 11th grade, Lillian Peterson, ninth grade, and team project of Priyanka Velappan and Alex Inokov, also in 11th grade.
    This is the 13th year that LAHS students have competed in the prestigious international fair. Along with that honor, they also received all-expense-paid trips to the Intel Fair.
    The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science and the Public (the Society), is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
    Each year, about 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions and territories are given a chance to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $4 million in prizes.
    Today, millions of students worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs. The winners of these events go on to participate in society-affiliated regional and state fairs from which the best win the opportunity to attend Intel ISEF.

  • ‘I love what I do and I’m always finding new ways to teach ideas’

    Naly Ramirez, 31, had a job she loved, teaching Spanish at a private language institute in Albuquerque.
    Even as she and her husband moved to Los Alamos a year ago, she kept commuting because she loved teaching.
    When her child’s pediatrician in Los Alamos needed Spanish lessons before a move to California, she began to see the possibility that she could bring her love of teaching to her new home.
    What started as individual lessons among health care and technical workers has now sprung into small classes of adult students, called Se Habla Español (Spanish is Spoken Here).
     “I love what I do and I am extremely positive about it. I learn every day and I’m always finding new ways to teach ideas,” she said.
    The four, weekly two-hour classes, cost of $110, and offer interaction, brain workouts, games, music and a grasp of the language almost from the moment you walk in the door, she said. The goals for a new beginner’s class, which begins April 12 and continues each Wednesday until May 3 from 6-8 p.m., include learning the pronunciation of about 100 words, exposure to talking about future activities, and other basics. Her classes are held at project Y in Los Alamos.

  • Border wall contractors brace for hostile environment

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — One potential bidder on President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico wanted to know if authorities would rush to help if workers came under “hostile attack.” Another asked if employees can carry firearms in states with strict gun control laws and if the government would indemnify them for using deadly force.
    With bids due Tuesday on the first design contracts, interested companies are preparing for the worst if they get the potentially lucrative job.
    A U.S. official with knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details haven’t been made public said four to 10 bidders are expected to be chosen to build prototypes.
    They will be constructed on a roughly quarter-mile (400-meter) strip of federally owned land in San Diego within 120 feet (37 meters) of the border, though a final decision has not been made on the precise spot, the official said. The government anticipates spending $200,000 to $500,000 on each prototype.
    The process for bids and prototypes are preliminary steps for a project that will face deep resistance in Congress and beyond.

  • Deadline nears for Gov. Martinez to act on legislation

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez isn’t backing down from threats not to sign measures that would increase taxes in New Mexico as the deadline nears for her to take action on a host of bills passed during the recent legislative session.
    Her office on Tuesday reiterated that tax hikes are off the table.
    The political standoff between the two-term Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled Legislature leaves uncertainty about the $6.1 million budget approved during the session that ended March 18.
    The spending plan for public education and other government programs is built upon a package of proposals aimed at plugging a shortfall with roughly $350 million in new taxes and fees on gasoline sales, retail sales over the internet, trucking permits and nonprofit hospital operations.
    Martinez has said the tax increases amount to burdens on working families. But Senate Democrats argue that the budget and new taxes are a reasonable option for pulling the state out of a fiscal crisis stemming a stagnant economy and a downturn in the oil and gas industry that has reduced state revenue.

  • LANL releases cultural artifacts plan

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory has released its Cultural Resources Management Plan, a plan designed to streamline the process of identifying and protecting cultural and historical sites on its property.
    The plan is the end result of an agreement with the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Concerning Management of the Historic Properties of Los Alamos National Laboratory on how to manage, preserve and protect the sites.
    Without the agreement or the plan, the numerous sites would bog down LANL’s work efforts.  
    “Absent (the agreement), routine operational tasks such as mowing and facilities maintenance would be subject to six- to eight-week project approval timelines through the (NNSA) Field Office and from the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO),” LANL’s Cultural Resources Management Plan said.
    Spread out over the 40 square miles of the Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos National Laboratory has about 1,886 known sites of cultural and historic value.
    The sites range from places where arrowheads and stone tools were found – dating between 9500 BC to 5500 BC – to buildings and sites from the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

  • LANL employee pleads no contest in theft of tools

    A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee from Española pleaded no contest to larceny and tampering with evidence Monday in First Judicial Court in Santa Fe.
    Richard Atencio, 52, was arrested April 4, 2016, for the theft of lab tools in September 2015. One of the tools was found to be radioactive.
    All employees who may have had contact with the tools were tested and decontaminated without incident.
    Police caught Atencio north of Tech Area 18 attempting to dump the items on the side of the road.  
    Items recovered at the scene included a band saw valued at $5,493, and two dollies valued at $7,180.
    Police were able to match the exact price of the items through records kept by LANL. Other stolen items included a box of pipe fittings, two pairs of work gloves, a bottle of liquid cleaning agent, a yellow roll of tape, a silver metal transport hitch, two rolls of white tape, blue and silver tow rope, and a green water hose.
    One of the tools was found to be radioactive, which prompted all employees who may have had contact with the tools to be called to TA 54 to be tested.
    According to the district attorney, all items were recovered and returned to LANL. Atencio was then charged with larceny and attempting to tamper with evidence.

  • NMSU postpone tuition hike decision

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — New Mexico university regents have voted unanimously to postpone their decision on raising tuition costs.
    New Mexico State University regents had planned to vote Monday on whether the tuition prices would be raised for students who enroll for next fall. The regents say they are postponing the discussion because of the uncertainties in the state's budget even though fall enrollment will begin the next days. New Mexico lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez are expected to make a decision on the state budget by Friday.
    School officials had proposed a tuition and fee rate hike of up to 6 percent.
    The faculty, staff and students who attended the Monday meeting had asked the regents for a modest or moderate tuition increase. Even with the additional money from the increase, school officials say they will still need to cut about 100 jobs.