Tuesday News Roundup: Los Alamos Studying Alternatives For Toxic Waste

Mar 11, 2014

Los Alamos Studying Alternatives For Toxic Waste -The Associated Press

With the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump shuttered by a mysterious leak, Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun looking at alternatives for getting toxic waste off its campus.

Lab spokesman Matthew Nerzig confirmed Tuesday that officials have begun looking at options if the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad remains closed indefinitely.

The presence of that waste, stored outside with little protection, came to the public's attention three years ago as a massive wildfire lapped at the edges of the sprawling lab property.

The lab has since agreed to have it all removed from the mesa by the end of June. The lab was ahead of schedule for getting the nearly 4,000 barrels to WIPP when back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release, closed the repository last month.

King Accuses Feds Of Trying To Siphon NM Water - The Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says the federal government has sided with Texas in an effort to take the state's groundwater.

King responded Tuesday to a motion by the government to intervene in a dispute over management of the Rio Grande. Texas first took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court more than a year ago.

New Mexico maintains it is meeting its water delivery obligations to Texas.

But the federal government alleges groundwater pumping in New Mexico is tapping the shallow aquifer that would otherwise drain back into the Rio Grande and flow to Texas.

In the latest court filing, King claims groundwater is a separate source of water from the Rio Grande Project, which provides farmers in southern New Mexico and Texas with irrigation water.

Neighbor Testifies In Albuquerque Shooting Trial- The Associated Press

A neighbor of an Albuquerque man fatally shot by police in his back yard has testified she thought he was being attacked by robbers.

Testimony began Monday in District Court in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Christopher Torres.

The 27-year-old was shot in the back at close range in 2011 by officers trying to serve an arrest warrant on an aggravated auto burglary charge.

Police have said Torres tried to punch one of the officers and was shot after he grabbed the officer's gun during a scuffle.

Neighbor Christie Apodaca testified that she saw one of the officers pull his gun after punching Torres and then tell Torres he was going to shoot him.

She said didn't see Torres with a gun.

Gov. Susana Martinez Signs $6B State BudgetThe Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed a $6 billion state budget but cut spending about $27 million with line-item vetoes.

The governor signed the measure on Tuesday but eliminated $2.4 million that would have provided pay raises for judges, district attorneys and appointed government workers.

Martinez also eliminated $15 million for public schools because she said the money isn't needed until 2016 when newly enacted changes in the state's school funding formula take effect.

The governor also vetoed $4 million for a college endowment fund. Lawmakers didn't overhaul the fund as requested by Martinez to make colleges compete for the money and target it to recruiting professors in critical areas such as math and science.

The budget, as signed by the governor, provides for a 4.3 percent spending increase next year


Workers Preparing To Enter New Mexico Nuclear Dump - The Associated Press

Specially trained workers are finalizing plans to enter the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump after two separate incidents forced its closure weeks ago, including a leak that exposed more than a dozen workers to low levels of radiation.

Officials with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant say initial testing shows there's no contamination at an air intake shaft that leads into the mine or at the bottom of the mine's salt shaft.

What remain uncertain are the radiation levels deep in the repository where plutonium-contaminated clothing, tools and other waste from federal nuclear sites around the country are stored.

Plant spokesman Donavan Mager said Monday the crews will be practicing before entering the mine later this week.

Once they enter, they will continue taking air samples as they get closer to the source of the contamination.