Thursday News Roundup: Crews Find Suspected Area Of Radiation Leak

Apr 17, 2014

Crews Find Suspected Area Of Radiation Leak - The Associated Press

More than two months after radiation leaked from the federal government's half-mile deep nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico, crews think they have identified the area where the release occurred.

The DOE's deputy recovery manager, Tammy Reynolds, told a community meeting in Carlsbad Thursday night that more trips need to made into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to further investigate the accident. Officials say they hope to have a lot more information next week.

Reynolds says crews on their fourth trip into the mine on Wednesday made it into the area where active waste storage was last being conducted and found contamination. The farther they went into the rooms, the contamination became more widespread. But she says the crews had to retreat before identifying the possible source because they had been underground for five hours in protective gear and needed to make their way back above ground.

Copter Pilot Reported Problem With Controls The Associated Press

The pilot of a medical helicopter that crashed in Albuquerque last week reported that the control pedals jammed or locked while taking off from the helipad on the University of New Mexico Hospital's roof.

The pilot's statement is contained in a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report on the April 9 crash.

It says the pilot began making a left turn but the helicopter kept turning and spun several crimes before crashing.

The pilot and the two paramedics aboard the helicopter suffered only minor injuries but the helicopter was heavily damaged. The helipad's fire suppression system put out a small fire.

The Airbus helicopter owned by PHI Air Medical was leaving the hospital after dropping off a patient.

It may be several months before the NTSB issues a final report.

Homeland Security Nabs 34 In New Mexico Gang Sting The Associated Press Homeland Security Investigations have arrested nearly three dozen "violent" Sureno gang members and associates during a New Mexico gang sweep.

The federal agency announced Thursday the 34 people were taken into custody as part of a national sting called "Project Southbound" aimed at arresting Sureno members linked to criminal activities.

Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge in New Mexico, says the gang members were arrested during a month-long sting that began in March with the help of Albuquerque and Santa Fe police.

He said the Valencia Country and Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office also helped with the sting.

HSI says the Surenos are one of many street gangs operating in rural area of New Mexico. The agency says they are linked to drug cartels.

4 N.M. Justices Won't Hear Judicial Pay-Raise Case The Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal Four of the five New Mexico Supreme Court justices have bowed out from hearing a lawsuit challenging Gov. Susana Martinez's veto that denied judges an 8 percent pay raise.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by a coalition of judicial associations, individual judges and two state senators.

Supreme Court Clerk Joey Montoya tells the Albuquerque Journal that the fifth justice, Richard Bosson, will serve as acting chief justice to preside over the case and appoint temporary justices to hear it.


Homeland Security Eyes Campaign On Scams - The Associated Press

Homeland Security Investigations is launching a campaign in Albuquerque aimed at warning the elderly on various scams.

Agents are planning seminars and workshops at retirement and nursing homes to inform older residents on lottery, IRA and jail fraud schemes.

Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge in New Mexico, said the scam artists are using such tools as voice altering apps to fool the elderly into giving out credit card and bank information. He says some schemes involve tricking residents into believing a loved one is in jail and needs money over the phone for bail.

Abar says the scams are conducted by criminal syndicates and small-time swindlers looks to make a quick buck.

Interior Secretary To Give Address At NM College - The Associated Press

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be delivering this year's commencement address to the graduating class at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

The ceremony is set for Thursday morning at the Albuquerque campus.

College President Sherry Allison says it's an honor to have Jewell join students for such an important milestone in their lives.

Established in 1971, SIPI provides career technical training and degrees to American Indian and Alaskan Native students. In March, the school was awarded initial accreditation status by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bill Targeting Wolf-Recovery Program Passes Arizona House - The Associated Press

The Arizona House of Representatives has approved a Senate bill allowing ranchers to kill endangered wolves in self-defense.

Senate Bill 1211 would allow livestock owners to kill a Mexican gray wolf if one was caught attacking livestock or a person.

Wildlife activists say the bill violates the federal Endangered Species Act. But a staff attorney says the bill has been watered down and now meets constitutional requirements.

A separate bill approved by both chambers sets up a reimbursement fund for ranchers who lose cattle to wolves. It stills final action.

Proponents say the federal government is overstepping its boundaries with its wolf-recovery program in Arizona and New Mexico.

The House approved the measure on a 37-23 vote Wednesday. It now returns to the Senate for transmittal to the governor.