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Local News

  • Operations resume at underground US nuclear waste repository

    CARLSBAD (AP) — Routine operations have resumed at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository following an evacuation in May that was prompted by the discovery of a misaligned drum of waste.

    Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico confirmed this week that processing and handling resumed June 2.

    In disposing the waste, seven 55-gallon (208-liter) drums are wrapped together in a tight formation to go deep inside the ancient salt formation where the repository is located. The idea is that the shifting salt will eventually entomb the waste.

    Work was halted when employees found one drum wasn't aligned with the others that made up the waste package. The package was eventually repacked and disposed of underground.

    Officials say no radiation was released and no injuries were reported.
     

  • Torres Small wins Dem’s 2nd district

    Las Cruces attorney Xochitl Torres Small has won the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District as the party looks to take control of a seat along the U.S.-Mexico border that’s eluded it for years.

    Torres Small on Tuesday defeated U.S. Coast Guard veteran Madeline “Mad” Hildebrandt. She’ll face the winner of a three-way contest for the Republican nomination in November’s general election.

  • Haaland wins Dem nomination for 1st Congressional District

    Former state Democratic Party leader Debra Haaland has won the party’s nomination for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District as she tries to become the first Native American congresswoman.

    Democrats are looking to maintain control over the Albuquerque-based seat in November. The member of Laguna Pueblo finished ahead of a crowded field that included former career prosecutor Damon Martinez, former law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara and business consultant Paul Moya.

    Haaland will face former Republican state lawmaker Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian candidate Lloyd Princeton in the general election.

    During the campaign, some fellow Democrats accused Haaland of not doing enough to address claims of misconduct while leading the state party. 

    Haaland argued that she adopted a statewide sexual harassment policy for the party during her tenure.

  • Herrell wins GOP nod for 2nd district

    State Rep. Yvette Herrell has won the Republican nomination for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District as the party looks to keep control of the seat along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Herrell on Tuesday finished ahead of a field that included former state GOP chairman Monty Newman and former U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs official Gavin Clarkson.

    She will face Democratic nominee Xochitl Torres Small, a Las Cruces attorney, in November’s general election.

    Throughout the campaign, the 54-year-old Alamogordo resident sought to position herself as a strong ally of President Donald Trump and a staunch supporter of the president’s push to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The congressional race is one of many expected to draw national attention because it may help determine which party controls the U.S. House.

  • LANL road construction set to start Thursday

    The first of three phases of road improvements to and from Los Alamos National Laboratory is scheduled to start Thursday.

    The road improvements are part of a $34.5 million Supplemental Environmental Projects settlement agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the U.S. Department of Energy, following the February 2014 drum breach incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

    Albuquerque Asphalt, Inc., will perform the road work under a $7 million contract awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers through an interagency agreement with the National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Construction activities will include sections of road extending from Omega Bridge in Los Alamos to the Totavi gas station east of Los Alamos. 

    These sections include portions of East Jemez Road, N.M. 4, and N.M. 502. Improvements will include milling and replacing the top layer of asphalt. 

  • Stephanie Garcia Richard wins public land commissioner seat in primary

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP)

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard has won the Democratic nomination in the race for New Mexico public land commissioner.

    Garcia Richard beat state Sen. George Munoz of Gallup and activist Garrett VeneKlasen of Santa Fe in Tuesday's primary for land boss, a position that oversees oil and mineral development on state trust land.

    Garcia Richard of White Rock will face Republican Patrick Lyons of Cuervo in November's general election.

    Lyons is a member of the Public Regulation Commission who previously served two terms as land commissioner. Libertarian candidate and rancher Michael Lucero also will be on the ballot.

    Current Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is running for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian.

    The State Land Office is on track to collect record revenue from oil and gas lease sales this fiscal year as production in New Mexico rebounds.

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  • Report: Chrobocinski violated 3 sections in code of conduct

    Former County Councilor James Chrobocinski was found to be in violation of three sections of the Code of Conduct based on a 74-page report prepared by Albuquerque attorney Debra J. Moulton for Los Alamos County.

    The report, dated May 24, was prompted by a complaint filed Feb. 15 against Chrobocinski by Los Alamos County Fire Marshal Jeff Wetteland and Chief Building Official Michael Arellano. It claims the areas of the Code of Conduct violated by Chrobocinski include the section addressing the standard of conduct for public officials; the section pertaining to disclosure of conflicts of interest, recusal and disqualification; and the section addressing misuse of a public official’s position.

    Among those interviewed by Moulton for her report were Wetteland, Arellano and Chrobocinski, as well as County Manager Harry Burgess and Fire Chief Troy Hughes. She also interviewed LAFD Senior Fire and Life Safety Coordinator Stephen Rinaldi and Community Development Department (CDD) Director Paul Andrus as well as CDD employees Adrienne Lovato and Lee Brammeier.

    There were about 70 documents reviewed by Moulton, including emails, social media posts, newspaper articles and voicemails.

  • DOE faults NNSA field office for lab’s safety issues

    A May report from the Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments gave the Los Alamos National Laboratory high marks for increasing its safety staffing and implementing “adequate” safety training, qualifications and procedures. 

    However, the same report also noted that the National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Field Office personnel and LANL officials aren’t consistently seeing eye to eye on the interpretation of safety requirements, even after LANL and the NNSA made moves to better communicate following some well-publicized safety breaches. 

    “Overall, although LANS has implemented many elements of its improvement plan, the persistent differences between LANS and NA-LA on their understanding of safety basis requirements continues to delay safety basis document development and maintenance,” a statement in the report said. 

    The office of Enterprise Assessments identified the source of the delays coming from the NNSA-Los Alamos Field Office.

  • LAHS grads urged to carve out their own corner of the world

    The graduates of Los Alamos High School were encouraged to carve out space in their own corner of the world while not forgetting the corner from which they came during Saturday’s commencement ceremony held at Griffith Gymnasium.

    “The choices and decisions you make will help you form your corner of the world,” Los Alamos teacher Brian Easton told the 245 graduates.

    Easton, who has taught economics, government and various social studies classes at LAHS for 20 years, told the graduates the best way to make good choices and decisions is by referring back to the economics cheer from their days in his classroom. 

    “And what does it start with?” he asked. “It starts with ‘Demand.’ In your corner of the world demand excellence; demand excellence of yourself and demand excellence of the people who are in your corner of the world. Demand truth, demand respect and never settle for less.”

    The second part of the cheer is “Supply.”

  • Dems Scott, Ryti, Izraelevitz, Robinson move on to general election

    Sara Scott collected almost 26 percent of the votes cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary race for Los Alamos County Council to lead the group of four candidates who will compete in the November general election.

    Scott collected 1,905 votes (25.93 percent) and was followed by David Izraelevitz with 1,631 votes (22.20 percent). Randall Ryti finished third with 1,185 votes (16.13 percent) and James Robinson fourth with 1,128 votes (15.35 percent).

    Rounding out the field of six were Tim Morrison, who notched 1,110 votes (15.11 percent), and Quentin Dimick, who got 389 votes (5.29 percent).

    Ryti, one of several candidates in attendance at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building as the results were posted, said as he looked ahead to November’s general election, “I think I just need to work a little bit harder, get some more interest going in the campaign and keep talking about the issues at hand.”