Today's 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.

  • Local fire managers maintain baseline restrictions

    Dry conditions in one eastern New Mexico county have prompted a burn ban while favorable conditions in another part of the state are allowing for a controlled burn.

    Here in Los Alamos County there is no change to the current situation as the 2018 fire season draws near.
    “We don’t have any burn bans at this time,” Los Alamos Fire Department’s Wildland District Chief Kelly Sterna said Thursday. “We’re still following our baseline restrictions.”

    The area is currently under a fire danger rating of “moderate.” According to the LAFD’s website that means fires can start from most accidental causes, but with the exception of lightning fires in some areas, the number of starts is generally low.

    It also means fires in open cured grasslands will burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days, that timber fires spread slowly to moderately fast and that the average fire is of moderate intensity, although heavy concentrations of fuel, especially draped fuel (needles leaves, twigs), may burn hot.

    As for control of fires in the moderate category, the site says fires are not likely to become serious and control is relatively easy.

  • ‘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.

  • New Mexico unemployment rate dips to 5.8 percent in January

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's unemployment rate is down, with the Department of Workforce Solutions reporting that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 5.8 percent, down from 5.9 percent in January.

    The department's report Friday says total nonagricultural payroll employment grew by 11,000 jobs, or 1.3 percent, since February 2017 when the state's jobless rate was 6.4 percent.

    Most of the job gains in the past year were in the private sector, with the goods-producing economic sector accounting for roughly half of the increase.

    The biggest increase was seen in mining and construction, which added 4,200 jobs.

  • Trump signs $1.3 trillion budget after threatening veto


    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending measure Friday, averting a midnight government shutdown just hours after declaring he was considering a veto.

    Trump said he was "very disappointed" in the package, in part because it did not fully fund his plans for a border wall with Mexico and did not address some 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants who are now protected from deportation under a program that he has moved to eliminate.

    But Trump praised the increases the bill provides for military spending and said he had "no choice but to fund our military"

    "My highest duty is to keep America safe," he said.

    The bill signing came a few hours after Trump created last-minute drama by saying in a tweet that he was "considering" a veto.

    With Congress already on recess, and a government shutdown looming, he said that young immigrants now protected in the U.S. under Barack Obama's Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals "have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded."

  • Another bus added for tour of Trinity Site

    ALAMOGORDO (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.

  • Safety meeting covers community concerns

    A desire for more training for students against a threat of an active shooter was one of the predominate points made Tuesday night during a community forum on school safety and security.

    Just over 50 people attended the event at the Los Alamos High School Speech Theater.

    Those in attendance sat at tables in the theater. Each table consisted of a mix of students, parents, school staff members, representatives from the school board and members of the Los Alamos Police Department.

    Participants were asked to address the following questions at their respective tables:

    • What makes you feel safe at school?

    • When do you not feel safe at school?

    • What could be done to improve student and adult safety at school?

    After several minutes of discussing these questions and writing down ideas for making school safer, a student from each table presented the responses their group came up with to the audience.

    A common thread through each of the presentations was the appreciation the students and staff have for an on-campus presence by the LAPD.

  • UNM group recommends raising tuition next year

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — University of New Mexico’s budget proposal recommends raising tuition next year to cover costs for campus safety measures and employee raises.

    The Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday that the budget proposal includes a 2.5 percent tuition increase and a 2.39 percent increase in student fees.

    Officials say it would give many employees their first raise in four years.

    Under the proposal, students could pay between $88 and $214 more each semester depending on which classes they take.

    The proposal was developed by the university’s budget leadership team which is made up representatives from the student body, faculty, staff and administration.

    University administrators will present the plan to the Board of Regents on Thursday.

    Regent President Rob Doughty said last month that he is against a tuition increase.

  • Forest to host ribbon cutting ceremony

    The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at Walatowa Timber Industries in Jemez from 9:30-11:30 a.m. April 4.

    The purpose is to commemorate the Pellet Mill project for the restoration benefits it will provide the Santa Fe National Forest, and the economic development opportunities it will bring communities in the Jemez Pueblo and Jemez Springs area.

    The event will be at 3795 Sawmill Road on State Road 4, Jemez Pueblo.

    Partner organizations include Walatowa Timber Industries, Pueblo of Jemez, Jemez Community Development Corporation, and the Santa Fe National Forest. 

    For more information, call the Santa Fe National Forest Public Affairs Office at 438-5320.

  • 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.”