Today's News

  • US regulators set public meetings for nuclear fuel proposal

    ROSWELL (AP) — Federal regulators have scheduled a series of public meetings as they consider a plan to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear reactors around the United States at a proposed site in southern New Mexico.

    The first meeting hosted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be Monday on the Eastern New Mexico University campus in Roswell.

    Another meeting will follow Tuesday in Hobbs and a third will be May 3 in Carlsbad.

    The public comment period will last through May on the application filed by Holtec International.

    Holtec and a coalition of local leaders from southeastern New Mexico first announced plans three years ago to construct a below-ground space for temporarily housing tons of spent nuclear fuel. The company is seeking an initial 40-year license.

  • Nuclear agency authorizes construction on New Mexico complex

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The National Nuclear Security Administration is beginning work on a multimillion-dollar complex in New Mexico that will serve as a new workspace for some 1,200 employees.

    The agency says construction was recently authorized to begin. Bids were solicited over the winter and officials estimated at that time that the new building could cost between $100 million and $250 million.

    The current facility includes a former military barracks at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. Some portions date to the early 1950s and are in poor condition. Because of the age of the buildings, officials say routine maintenance is costly and inefficient.

    The new building is expected to reduce the agency's total deferred maintenance by about $40 million.

    The agency expects construction to be done in the first part of the 2021 fiscal year.

  • New Mexico Supreme Court rejects governor's vetoes

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court sided with lawmakers Wednesday in a dispute over the extent of the governor's veto powers, ordering that 10 bills vetoed by Republican Susana Martinez in 2017 go into effect because she offered no immediate explanation to the Legislature.

    In oral arguments before the court, an attorney for the Democratic-led Legislature said Martinez made it difficult or impossible to respond to her concerns about proposed legislation by not providing her reasoning in writing, or by waiting until long after the vetoes.

    "The Constitution requires the objections must accompany the allegedly vetoed bills," Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said. "Because the objections did not accompany the bills, they became law."

    Martinez, a second-term Republican who cannot run for re-election this year, previously said the Legislature was overstepping its authority.

    Paul Kennedy, an attorney for the governor, argued Wednesday that lawmakers eventually received written explanations for five of the contested vetoes, leaving enough time to revise the bills or attempt an override vote.

  • State ed officials pursue school retention plan

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico education officials are proceeding with a proposal that would require public schools to administer improvement and intervention plans and in some cases hold back students who have literacy skills below grade level.

    Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski is proposing the new rules that would apply to students in kindergarten through third grade.

    Under the measure, schools would be required to hold back students who are struggling with reading proficiency based on a state assessment.

    The proposal would allow exemptions in certain circumstances. Parents could also sign a waiver to allow the student to move on to the next grade level, but retention would be mandatory if the student’s reading is still below proficiency at the end of the following year.

    “It seeks to codify that which is already found in state statute – which already includes language requiring additional instruction for students who can’t read,” Ruszkowski told the Albuquerque Journal.

  • Judge to decide county email, privacy complaint

    Santa Fe District Judge Gregory Shaffer said Wednesday he would issue a decision soon as to whether emails authored by Los Alamos County Council member Susan O’Leary can remain private.

    “The court is going to take the matter under advisement,” Schaffer said. “I’ll issue my own written opinion on the emails at issue on or before May 7.” 

  • LA Gun Show remains popular with locals

    The Los Alamos Gun Show went off without a hitch this weekend as gun sellers, gun buyers, gun traders and a few political candidates stopped by the event. 

    The gun show has been a steadfast county tradition that has successfully withstood the tides of politics in the 10-plus years of its existence. 

    The show’s founders speculated that the reason it is so popular is that there aren’t a lot of places nearby where people can purchase a firearm.

    “This is a great family event, and we have a lot of active sportsmen in here,” said one of the founders of the event. “There’s not a lot of options to buy guns, so we enjoy being able to bring this to the enthusiasts in the area. It’s very popular event.”

    The organizer also had an opinion about the recent attempts to add more regulation to gun shows and protests against the gun show in general that have cropped up through the years. 

  • PED heralds new options for computer science students

    New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski couldn’t have picked a better place to make an important announcement Tuesday.

    Ruszkowski made an appearance at the annual Supercomputing Challenge Awards ceremony at the Church of Christ in Los Alamos, announcing that a series of computer science courses can now count toward high school graduation credits. 

    “Historically, when we talk about math credits, and science credits, that you have to earn, courses focused on things like computer science were not allowed to count toward that high school graduation requirement,” Ruszkowski said. “What I’m announcing today is that ends today.” 

    When the applause and cheers coming from middle and high school students that came from all over the region faded, he explained further what that exactly meant.

    “Scientific Technologies, mathematical modeling, fractal math AP (Advanced Placement) Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles may be utilized in some cases for math credit, in some cases for science credit, in some cases for either or,” Ruszkowski said.

  • NNSA: Lab contract could be awarded by May

    The contract worth more than $2 billion annually to operate and manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory could be awarded as soon as April or May, according to publicly available documents from the National Nuclear Security Administration. 

    All bids are now finalized for the contract, according to press reports. 

    The University of California announced  it had finalized its bid for the contract Friday, according to University of California Media Specialist Stephanie Beechem. 

    “We have submitted our final bid, just like the other teams,” Beechem said. 

    “It’s my understanding that all teams have submitted their final bids at this time,” a spokesperson for the University of California wrote in an email to Weapons Complex Morning Briefing earlier this week.

    Beechem could not reveal any background information on the nature of their bid. 

  • Plutonium pit misplaced at LANL; corrective actions taken

    Los Alamos National Laboratory officials said Monday lab personnel have taken corrective actions in the wake of a March incident involving a misplaced plutonium pit. 

    The pit was placed in a glovebox inside the lab’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility that was not designed to hold it, according to a March 23 Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board inspection report. 

    A laboratory spokesman said Monday that the pit has since been removed and workers have received additional training because of the incident. 

    No one was hurt, and the report also noted that there were no other radioactive materials in the box the plutonium pit could have reacted with, which could have caused a nuclear criticality event.

    Plutonium pits, manufactured at the laboratory, are about the size of a softball and are used as triggering mechanisms for nuclear weapons. 

  • New Mexico education officials pursue school retention plan

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico public schools officials are moving forward with a proposal that would require schools to administer improvement and intervention plans and in some cases hold back students who have literacy skills below grade level.

    Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski is proposing the new rule that focuses on reading proficiency based on a state assessment and would apply to schools teaching students in kindergarten through third grade.

    Schools would be required to retain students if they fail to reach reading proficiently following a variety of steps that aim to help struggling students. The proposal would allow some exemptions to retention.

    Members of the Legislative Education Study Committee voiced concern about the proposal at their meeting Monday, saying it's similar to legislation that lawmakers have previously rejected.