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Today's News

  • State, LANL focus on chromium plume cleanup

    Containment and cleanup of a decades-old chemical spill on Los Alamos National Laboratory property has taken top priority with the state’s Environment Department and LANL.
    At a public meeting Wednesday, representatives from the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office explained waste cleanup priorities recently worked out in a revised consent agreement between the state and the Department of Energy.
    Their top priority for 2017 is to start the containment and eventual cleanup of an underground plume of chromium, a corrosion preventive used in cooling towers at a laboratory plant between 1956 and 1972.
    Water containing the chromium was routinely flushed out into Sandia Canyon, where it eventually settled into an aquifer under Mortandad Canyon. At one time, about 80 tons remained beneath the canyon when the lab started addressing the problem in 2005, with a monitoring program involving 20 monitoring wells planted at various depths in and around the plume.
    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, a half-mile in diameter and about 250 feet from a water table in the area.

  • LA hockey opens Friday night

    The Los Alamos hockey team will open its 2016-17 season by hosting Taos at 6:45 p.m. Friday at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. Friday’s season-opening game will also be a battle for the North Star trophy, which is given to the winner of each Los Alamos-Taos matchup. The Hilltoppers currently hold the trophy, as they defeated the Ice Tigers in their previous meeting during the 2015-16 season. The season opener can also be heard on the radio on KRSN 1490AM.

  • Prep girl's basketball: New LA era begins Saturday

    Not only will the Los Alamos girl’s basketball team begin the season with a new coach, it will also have a new leader on the court.
    The Hilltoppers tip-off their 2016-17 campaign by hosting Farmington at 5 p.m. Saturday at Griffith Gym.
    “It’s going to be tough to get off to a strong start but it is important,” said Los Alamos first-year coach Josh Archuleta. “Usually that first game will set the tone for the season. But I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve lost the first game before but came stronger. And I’ve also won the first game but didn’t come back so strong.”
    Archuleta inherits a squad that includes seven seniors and three juniors. Although most of those seniors and juniors have been on the varsity level before, they haven’t seen a lot of meaningful minutes, as Los Alamos graduated four key players from last year’s team.  
    “They graduated some key players last year so they have some big shoes to fill,” Archuleta said. “We have one girl (Ashley Logan) that’s coming up with true varsity experience and that’s gotten several minutes. So these girls have something to prove and they want to show that it’s their turn to shine.”
    “I see us surprising a lot of people.”

  • University of New Mexico regents eye new seal design

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The University of New Mexico Board of Regents is considering changing the school's official seal after some students said the current one is offensive to Native Americans.

    Regents on Tuesday voted to create a process to design a new seal and gauge the cost of adopting it.

    The university's current seal, which was adopted in 1969 and depicts a frontiersman and a Spanish conquistador, has been criticized by Native American student groups as being racist. Critics say the seal reflects the state's violent past toward Native Americans.

    "We have heard them. We're doing something," said regent Jack Fortner

    On Tuesday, four students met with the board, urging them to change to seal.

    One of those students, Hope Alvarado, said she is a first-generation high school graduate and college student. She said attending UNM is very importer to both her and her family but that the seal makes her feel excluded from the campus.

    "When I look at this seal, it symbolizes genocide of my people," Alvarado, who is Native American, said. "It symbolizes the very traumatic history that my people endured."

  • Today in history Nov. 16
  • Federal team at nuclear storage site to evaluate readiness

    CARLSBAD (AP) — A team of Department of Energy experts is evaluating the readiness of the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository to resume storage operations.

    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico has been closed since February 2014 due to a radiation release, and the Energy Department team arrived at the facility on Monday for a two-week review progress toward resumption of operations.

    According to the department, the team will examine the facility's proficiency in receiving and handling waste shipments. Other review subjects include maintenance, operations, fire safety, radiological controls, emergency management and safety processes.

    There's a backlog of waste at sites around the country awaiting shipment to the facility for permanent disposal

    State environmental regulators also will inspect WIPP.

  • Election 2016: Slime attacks, upsets and close calls

    Gov. Susana Martinez will face a legislature firmly in the hands of Democrats after this election. On the other hand, she got rid of the chief thorn in her side, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.
    At this writing, the results are still new and not entirely final. Political pundits will be sorting out this election for a long time, but there are some takeaways.
    The big news here is that Democrats took back the House. After two bitter years of Republican control, we might expect to see some payback, but I hope they focus on the state’s business. Similarly, the Senate is a little more blue than red.
    The leadership shuffle in the House will probably make Rep. Brian Egolf, of Santa Fe, the new speaker. Keep an eye on the powerful House Appropriations and Finance Committee, where Gallup’s Rep.
    Patty Lundstrom has not only the seniority but the knowledge to be chair. And, fellas, women have been a little scarce in leadership positions.
    Incumbents often had the advantage, but not always.
    Newcomer Greg Baca overwhelmed Michael Sanchez after an expensive, ugly campaign. Advance New Mexico Now, a super PAC operated by the governor’s political adviser Jay McCleskey, dropped more than $370,000 on TV advertising alone, according to New Mexico In Depth.

  • Credit union merger to create largest NM owned financial institution

    Two Albuquerque credit unions are merging. The combination of Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union and Kirtland Federal Credit Union will have total assets of just over $3 billion, which makes for the largest New Mexico based financial institution and more than double the $1.4 billion In assets recorded by Los Alamos National Bank in September.
    Los Alamos National has had the “largest-local” title since its bigger brethren were sold to companies such as Well Fargo and Bank of America more than 20 years ago.
    Robert Chavez, Sandia president and CEO, will lead the combined company. Chavez is an alumnus of Sunwest Bank.
    The two credit unions have an enviable customer base (credit union customers are called “members”) that combines the people from Albuquerque’s research establishment (Sandia National Laboratories) and the military, which is most everything else on Kirtland Air Force Base.
    These people are steadily employed, decently paid and loyal. Bankers should be so lucky.
    After jumping the regulatory hoops, the deal is expected to be done by the end of 2017.

  • Science on Tap Thursday

    Join in the Science on Tap discussion at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at UnQuarked Wine Room, to hear Barry Charles discuss “Creativity under Pressure, or Why Disarming a Terrorist Nuke Is like Defending against Aliens in Space.”
    UnQuarked Wine Room is located at 145 Central Park Square.
    Charles, with the Lab’s Global Security organization, will recreate the TEDxLANL talk he gave earlier this year. Disarming an improvised nuclear weapon is a challenge the world has never faced.

  • CROP Hunger Walk and Turkey Trot Sunday

    The 2016 Los Alamos CROP Hunger Walk and Turkey Trot will be this Sunday.
    As per tradition, the event is always held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
    The event is the biggest CROP Walk in New Mexico, and has a long history in this town, thanks to the efforts of the late Aaron Goldman.
    When the gun goes off at 2 p.m., the Atomic City Roadrunners get the jump on the walkers. The route is either 1.7 miles or 2.57 miles round trip from the Los Alamos Middle School – either to, or through, the North Mesa Stables and back to the school.
    Participants arrive in the middle school cafeteria after 1 p.m. to register, pick out a t-shirt and turn in monetary donations from themselves or from their sponsors.
    These donations are key to the success of the event. Twenty-five percent of what is collected stays in town to feed hungry people locally, while the balance feeds the needy and provides relief through Church World Service and it’s global partners.