Local News

  • DOE finds problems with missile program

    The U.S. Department of Energy has highlighted problems in the life extension program of the B61-12 nuclear missile, one of the oldest weapons in the country’s nuclear arsenal.
    The issues included scheduling problems between Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, the potential for cost overruns, and the inability to get the two labs to work together.
    “Given the critical national security mission, as well as the significant cost of the project, we initiated this audit to determine whether (the National Nuclear Safety Administration) was effectively managing the B61-12 LEP (Life Extension Program),” said the DOE’s Acting Inspector General Rickey Hass in a memorandum to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
    Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories are working on ways to extend the missile’s life by at least 20 years. Sandia is working to add a guidance system to the tail and LANL’s role is to update the weapon’s other components.
    The first completed unit is due in March 2020. The project’s estimated cost is $8.1 billion.
    NNSA manages the life-extension program. The B61 started life in 1963 when it was known as the TX-61.

  • LAHS student dies following sleepover

    A 15-year-old Los Alamos student died earlier this week, after a sleepover at a house in the Jemez Mountains.
    The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department would not release details about the death and could not disclose the official cause Thursday.
    Arleigh Huff, a 10th-grade student at the high school, was airlifted Sunday to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque from the Jemez Mountain-area home after suffering a “medical incident” at the house, according to Investigations Supervisor Lt. Allen Mills.
    “It was a sleepover and there was some juveniles that were there that brought liquor,” Mills said.
    Mills also said it will be probably a month or so before they can determine exactly what happened.
    Toxicology results are still pending, Mills said. Mills also said no charges have been filed and probably never will be filed, as only juveniles were at the party where he said alcohol was being served.
     “They won’t have anything official until they get back a toxicology report, which will probably be six weeks,” Mills said. “The district attorney’s office has been contacted and they believe there will be no charges, as nothing criminal has been found.”

  • State looks to dismiss lawsuit over federal nuke lab cleanup

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department is asking a federal court to dismiss a watchdog group's lawsuit over a cleanup effort at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons factories.

    Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed its lawsuit in federal court in May, naming the U.S. Energy Department and Los Alamos National Security LLC as defendants.

    The lawsuit lists a dozen violations. It says the defendants are liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for failing to comply with a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.

    The agreement, which ended a court fight between New Mexico and DOE, was supposed to have required cleanup of the lab's entire 40-square-mile site by last year but that work was not completed as the lab failed to receive federal appropriations.

    In a motion filed Thursday, the Environment Department argues that a new agreement made in 2016 invalidates the 2005 agreement the lawsuit is based on and therefore the lawsuit should be dismissed.

    "Because the 2005 Consent Order has been superseded by the 2016 Consent Order, the 2005 Consent Order is void and is no longer in effect," the motion says.

  • Today in history Sept. 1
  • Explosion at SpaceX launch pad destroys rocket, satellite

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A massive explosion erupted Thursday at SpaceX's main launch pad, destroying a rocket as well as a satellite that Facebook was counting on to spread internet service in Africa.

    There were no injuries. The pad had been cleared of workers before what was supposed to be a routine rocket test.

    The mishap dealt a severe blow to SpaceX, still scrambling to catch up with satellite deliveries following a launch accident last year. It's also a setback for NASA, which has been counting on the private company to keep the International Space Station stocked with supplies and, ultimately, astronauts.

    SpaceX was working to conduct a test firing of its unmanned Falcon rocket when the blast occurred shortly after 9 a.m. at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The test was in advance of Saturday's planned launch of an Israeli-made communications satellite that was supposed to provide home internet for parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

    SpaceX said that in preparation for Thursday's engine firing — a test carried out a few days before every launch — "there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload." No additional details were provided. It wasn't clear whether the rocket caused the problem or something else on the pad.

  • 8 LANL entries finalists in prestigious R&D 100 Awards

    Windows that double as solar panels, anti-hacking software that stops hackers, and an artificial lung are some Los Alamos National Laboratory entries that made it into the final rounds of a contest known as the “Oscars of Invention.”
    LANL, in partnership with other organizations and universities, have eight entries in the prestigious “R&D 100 Awards.”
    They include: a software suite that streamlines getting developed carbon dioxide capture technology into the marketplace; a truly random number generator for computer security; software that simulates real-world experiments; software that bridges “cloud storage” with older computer technologies; software that heads off computer attacks before they start; a new materials designed to enhance the effectiveness of particle accelerators; an artificial lung designed to screen for drugs and toxic agents; and windows that double as solar panels.  
    The R&D 100 Awards is a contest organized by R&D magazine. The judging panel is selected by the editorial staff of the magazine. Panelists include a cross section of top scientists, researchers, developers and experts in research and development. Winners will be announced Nov. 3.

  • Valles Caldera hosts Park Service’s centennial

    America’s newest national preserve, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service with activities that highlighted VCNP’s abundant ecological resources and enjoyment of the outdoors.
    “We’re a little bit of a newcomer to the park system, so it’s really a point of pride for me to be here for the centennial and representing the National Park Service, and sharing this wonderful place and getting it on the map for all New Mexicans and all Americans,” Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos said.
    NPS turned 100 on Aug. 25, but most parks held celebrations over the weekend, including Valles Caldera and Bandelier National Monument.
    The preserve’s friends group, Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, and the New Mexico Wildlife Federation (NMWF) helped organize Saturday’s event.
    Los Amigos invited the New Mexico Wildlife Center to the event. Center volunteers introduced visitors to a turkey vulture and a Long-eared owl. The friends group also organized face painting and a performance by Black Eagle, a Grammy Award winning musical group from Jemez Pueblo. Jackie Raye Anderson demonstrated en plein air painting.

  • Board firms up Barranca Mesa plan

    The Los Alamos School Board has set a plan and a path forward about how it wants to renovate Barranca Mesa Elementary School.
    At a special board meeting Thursday night, they set a January window for the bond sale that would raise money for construction, officially decided they were going ahead with the reconstruction of Barranca Mesa Elementary, and set specific dates for meetings with the public to discuss the new plan.
    The board will combine, if approved by the voters in January, the $13.5 million from the bond sale with $7.6 million left over from a previous bond sale that was used to build Aspen Elementary School.
    The board then will take $12.3 million from the combined funds for use toward the reconstruction of Barranca Mesa and use the rest to fund major construction projects at each of the other schools. Schools high on that list included Mountain Elementary, Piñon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary.
    Approval of the new strategy was unanimous.
    The first meeting where the board will introduce the plan to the public will be in White Rock on Sept. 8. The district is still working on a time and location for that meeting. The second meeting will be on Sept. 13 at the regular school board meeting. That will be at the district offices, located at 2075 Trinity Avenue, Suite V.  

  • Maggiore tapped for council ticket

    The Democratic Party of Los Alamos County Central Committee voted unanimously on Sunday to appoint Antonio Maggiore to replace Councilor Kristin Henderson on the party ticket for the Los Alamos County Council race. Henderson withdrew her candidacy last week.
    According to local party Chair Robyn Schultz, Maggiore was the only candidate to come forward for consideration. He ran for a place on the ticket during the 2016 Primary election, losing to Henderson, Councilor Pete Sheehey and Chris Chandler by just 34 votes.
    “It’s certainly unexpected. It’s really quite humbling to be given a second chance so quickly,” Maggiore said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get a second chance to get my views out there and hopefully represent the community.”
    Maggiore recognizes the challenge he faces running against not only his fellow Democrats but Republicans Jaret McDonald, Steve Girrens, and Patrick Brenner for the three vacant seats.
    “I feel like I’m two months behind everyone else – because I am – which is OK. I like a challenge and will do my best to live up to everyone’s expectations,” Maggiore said.

  • Anti-wrinkle vibrator forces plane evacuation in Albuquerque

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities say an anti-wrinkle vibrator forced a Southwest Flight to evacuate in Albuquerque.

    KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports Albuquerque Aviation Police say passengers were ordered off the plane on Monday after a "Bar 24K Golden Anti-Aging Skin Roller" was discovered in the seat back of a passenger's seat.

    Authorities say the flight crew moved the items to the galley and Albuquerque Aviation Police conducted a full sweep of the plane.

    No other suspicious items were found. No arrests were made.

    The item was reportedly left in the Albuquerque International Sunport Lost and Found.