Tuesday News Roundup: Union Awaits Info On Leak At New Mexico Nuke Dump

Mar 4, 2014

Union Awaits Info On Leak At New Mexico Nuke Dump - The Associated Press

A union representing some 200 workers at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump says its wants to be sure employees are safe when the repository opens after a radiation leak that exposed at least 13 people.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad has been off-limits to most workers for nearly three weeks.

Plant officials say they have yet to determine what caused the leak. The results of more air, soil, vegetation and water samples are expected in the coming days.

Officials with United Steelworkers of America say they're waiting for more information from the U.S. Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the repository. They want to know where the radiation contamination came from and whether something can be done to prevent leaks in the future.

Voters In Rio Rancho, Santa Fe Go To The Polls - The Albuquerque Journal, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Voters in Santa Fe go to the polls today to elect a new mayor.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Patti Bushee, Bill Dimas, and Javier Gonzales  have been campaigning heavily for the city’s top elected position.

Bushee is the longest serving city council member, Dimas is a councilor and former police officer and county magistrate. Gonzales served as a county commissioner and is the former chair of the state Democratic party.

There are also nine charter amendments on the ballot and 3 of 4 city council seats are contested.

Thirty-three polling sites are open until 7p.

Voters in Rio Rancho also go to the polls today to elect a successor to Mayor Tom Swisstack.

The Albuquerque Journal reports former mayors Jim Owen and Mike Williams are joined in the competition by challengers Morgan Braden, a business owner and EMT and Greg Hull, former business owner.

Three city council positions are up for grabs along with a municipal judgeship. 

NM Sets Deadlines For Handling Waste At Nuclear Dump - The Associated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department is giving the federal government a deadline for dealing with radioactive waste that's sitting above ground at a nuclear dump near Carlsbad.

Dozens of drums and other special containers of waste are being stored in a parking area at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and inside the facility's waste handling building.

From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. But the repository has been closed since early February due to back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers.

The Environment Department outlined the deadlines and other requirements for the dump in an administrative order made public Monday.

State officials say the order lets them keep close watch on what's happening.

New Mexico Governor To Unveil GOP Candidates Plan - The Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is set to unveil a plan aimed at electing "75 diverse candidates" and 150 women to office as Republicans.

The nation's only Latina governor and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno are scheduled to announce details Tuesday on recruiting black, Latino and female GOP candidates for state-level offices.

Martinez, a moderate Republican seen as a rising star in the party, has been leading an effort to diversify the GOP. She and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval worked on minority outreach before the 2012presidential election.

But President Barack Obama took about 70 percent of the Hispanic vote. Additionally, about 90 percent of black voters backed Obama.

Among women, around 55 percent voted for the Democratic incumbent as he defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

New Mexico Governor OKs Aircraft Industry Tax Cut - The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has signed into law a bill that supporters say will help New Mexico's aviation industry.

The measure will remove the gross receipts tax from the sale of commercial aircraft.

The governor signed the legislation on Monday in Roswell where two companies refurbish, maintain and store aging commercial airliners.

With the new law, industry officials say the companies can generate more business because New Mexico will be competitive with states such as Texas that don't tax aircraft sales. Currently, an airliner refurbished in New Mexico is flown to another state to be sold.

The governor also signed legislation to require testing of newborns for heart disorders and allow horse racing tracks to bar horse owners with a suspended or revoked license for administering performance-altering drugs to a horse.

Request To Oust Judge From Slaughter Suit Denied - The Albuquerque Journal

The New Mexico Supreme Court is refusing to bar a District Court judge from handling a lawsuit against a proposed horse slaughterhouse in Roswell.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that an order by a three-justice panel of the state high court denies Valley Meat's request to have District Judge Matthew Wilson removed from the case.

The request alleges there's an appearance of impropriety and a lack of impartiality by Wilson because of posts on his campaign website by other people commenting on the horse slaughter case.

The lawsuit by state Attorney General Gary King seeks a permanent order blocking horse slaughter in New Mexico.

The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the United States has been blocked by a new federal budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections.

Atonement Meets 'Salt of the Earth' Anniversary - The Associated Press 

The 60th anniversary of the blacklisted film "Salt of the Earth" is coming amid atonement.

Joining celebrations about the movie depicting a real-life miners' strike in southwestern New Mexico are deputies from the same sheriff's office that tried to break the strike and run over women strikers. And a film workers' union, which once distanced itself from the production, now is working to promote the film's history.

A number of anniversary events are scheduled this month around the state to honor the 1954 film.

"Salt of the Earth" was blacklisted in the United State during Cold War retribution against left-leaning filmmakers. Told through the eyes of Esperanza, played by Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas, the film later became a feminist and Chicano Studies classic because of its depiction of discrimination against Mexican Americans and women.

New Mexico Revenues Stronger So Far This Year - The Associated Press

A legislative panel reports New Mexico's revenue collections are stronger than expected during the first half of the fiscal year.

The Legislative Finance Committee said the state's main budget account has experienced 4.6 percent revenue growth from July through December. That's above the 2.7 percent growth forecast for the year.

The committee's revenue tracking report says New Mexico could end up collecting $86 million more than anticipated if current targets are met the rest of the year.

Much of the improvement is from energy revenue, including taxes on oil and gas production.

The committee issued its report as Gov. Susana Martinez considers what to cut from a $6 billion budget bill with line-item vetoes. The governor has expressed concerns that cash reserves are too low under the Legislature's budget proposal.