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Today's News

  • 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.
     

  • Union for political campaigns expands to New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — The staff for Democratic congressional candidate Debra Haaland in New Mexico has unionized under an upstart national guild for election-campaign employees, announcing a new contract Monday that was negotiated through collective bargaining.

    The contract secured by the Campaign Workers Guild includes a minimum $15-an-hour wage for part-time workers and a $3,000 minimum monthly salary for full time staff, along with workplace guarantees that include procedures for reporting sexual misconduct, according to campaign staff and a union official. Additional terms of the contract were not disclosed.

    Angie Poss, a field director for Haaland's campaign, said collective bargaining was an opportunity for staff and the candidate to live by the values they espouse.

    "We're leading by example," Poss said. "We don't just support the right to unionize, we support our own rights and are taking that power into our own hands."

    She insisted the campaign will remain competitive as Haaland seeks the Democratic nomination to succeed Democratic

    U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor.

    "You don't have to work 80 hours a week on a campaign to be effective," Poss said.

  • Lacrosse falls to Sandia Prep in OT

     Battling Sandia Prep was the least of the Los Alamos High School boys’ lacrosse team’s problems Thursday night at Dara Jones Field, as high-powered wind gusts wreaked havoc on the players, the fans and especially the ball. The elements made the game unpredictable and exciting, though the home fans went home unhappy as the Hilltoppers lost 8-7 in overtime. 

    It was a back-and-forth contest from the opening face-off, as neither team was able to create separation. Offense was made difficult by the wind, as every pass had to be made carefully, and long passes were nearly impossible to complete. 

    The Hilltoppers took the early lead, as Peter Janke got LAHS on the board with the first goal of the game. 

    After Sandia answered back with a goal, Jacob Dunwoody gave the Hilltoppers a 2-1 lead with a goal of his own before the end of the first quarter. 

    Sandia once again answered back with a goal, and Ryder Davenhall came right back with his first goal of the game to give LAHS a 3-2 lead. 

    The back-and-forth game continued as Sandia tied the score 3-3 before Janke gave LAHS the lead back.

  • Atomic City Update: Cutting men’s soccer would be a mistake for UNM

    This week, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents voted 6-1 in favor of a budget that will require the university to cut sports programs in the near future. As someone who believes sports are an important part of society, especially on college campuses, this is not the kind of news I like to hear. 

    Particularly concerning is that one of the main sports being considered for the cuts is the men’s soccer program, which has been one of UNM’s most successful programs since the turn of the century. If a program had a long history of losing, and was making the school very little money I think it would be fair to consider letting it go, but that’s far from the case here. 

    The team has played in two Final Fours, one national championship game and has been a conference champion seven times since 2001. That is more success than many programs around the country could expect to have in 50 years of competition. 

  • Such a Goose
  • After brief relief, forecasts indicate drought will continue

    By KELLY P. KISSEL, Associated Press

    Dry weather will prolong the wildfire threat through summer in the southwestern United States, even though weekend showers temporarily relieved drought conditions in parts of the area, forecasters said Monday.

    The drought is rooted in a dry spell that began in October and is considered "extreme" from southern California to central Kansas. Conditions are even worse in the Four Corners region and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, warranting their description as "exceptional."

    "The proverbial spigot shut off," said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. "Drought isn't necessarily a signal for wildfires, but it can exacerbate the conditions that do take place."

    Climatologists consider the months from October to April to be a "recharge" period, with showers and snow replenishing water supplies in the Southern Plains. However, the most recent significant rain in the area came in early October.

  • Bulging drum did not contain radiological waste

    A drum with a bulging lid hazardous material remediation crews responded to at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Sigma complex Monday contained no radioactive materials, said a lab spokesman Thursday.

    “The material in a plastic waste drum was a combination of water, mineral oil and metal powder. The bulge in the plastic lid was likely caused by a small amount of water reacting with the metal powder,” a spokesman for the lab said. “The metal powders were composed of typical alloys such as stainless steel, titanium alloys, and aluminum alloys.”

    A waste management coordinator was performing a routine inspection when the inspector saw the bulging lid.

    The lab spokesman said there was very low risk of an explosion and the barrel was disposed of.

    “A small cut was made in the plastic using a robot. The pressure was relieved through the slit. The barrel has since been packed into a 55 gallon metal drum with a pressure relief device for disposal,” the lab spokesman said.

    On April 16 at 2:30 p.m., a partial evacuation took place at the Los Alamos National Laboratory when the bulge in the drum was discovered. No workers were harmed during the incident, and the area where the drum was stored was rendered safe a few hours after the incident.

  • Community invited to opening of Duane Smith Auditorium

    The community is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially re-open the Duane W. Smith Auditorium at 6 pm. Thursday.

    The short ceremony will be followed by light refreshments.

    The Duane Smith Auditorium, originally called the Civic Auditorium, was built in 1950. It stood as the main facility in which local organizations could host plays and performances due to its spacious stage and seating area.

    Even today, it serves the Los Alamos schools and the community, from Los Alamos National Laboratory to Los Alamos Concert Association.

    Since then, upkeep and renovations have been ongoing.

    About eight years ago, the school district replaced the main curtain and the rigging in Duane Smith and repainted the main hall. Four years ago, the district also replaced all the seating.

  • Police Beat 4-22-18

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    April 11
    2:36 p.m. — Melinda M. Madrid, 36, of Hernandez was arrested and then released  for driving with a suspended license and having two magistrate court bench warrants totaling $1200.
    4:59 p.m. — Los Alamos police issued a summons to an individual for being in possession of a controlled substance.

    April 12
    11:30 a.m. — Los Alamos police responded to a medical call.
    1:45 p.m. – Los Alamos police investigated a larceny involving stolen door mats. Investigation is inactive.

    April 13
    10:55 a.m. — Los Alamos Police investigated an incident of vandalism.

    April 14
    8:34 p.m. — Los Alamos police investigated a possible act of vehicle tampering. Investigation is inactive.

    April 16
    Midnight — Los Alamos police investigated a dog bite case.