The Associated Press

US Department of Energy

UPDATE 3/10 7a: The U.S. Department of Energy says new air testing in the nation's only underground nuclear repository shows no detectable radioactive contamination from a leak last month.

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad said Sunday that instruments used to measure air quality and radioactivity were sent underground Friday and Saturday in the first step to resuming operations at the plant.

They say initial results indicate no contamination in the air or on the measuring equipment.

Randy Montoya

The results of new monitoring data show slightly elevated levels of airborne radiation at and around the U.S. government's nuclear repository in southeastern New Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Energy said Monday the results are from samples collected last week at numerous air monitoring stations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and in the surrounding area.

The results are consistent with the kinds of low-grade nuclear waste stored at the underground site, but both federal and state officials say there's no indication of any public health threat.

Public domain image.

UPDATE 7:20p 02/21:

Department of Energy officials say radiation levels detected in and around the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository are consistent with a leak at the southeastern New Mexico facility.

Carlsbad field office manager Jose Franco said Thursday that readings from sensors above and below ground indicate the radiation is coming from waste stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. But officials won't know what caused the leak until they can get underground to investigate. That could be weeks.

Public domain image.

The U.S. Department of Energy stressed Sunday that no surface contamination has been found after airborne radiation was detected underground at a southeastern New Mexico site where the government stores low-grade nuclear waste.

The department says that tests were taken at several sites around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after a monitor found radiation on underground levels late Friday night.

No workers were underground and no injuries or damages have been reported.

puroticorico via Flickr

A Senate panel has rejected a proposal to restrict firearms in the New Mexico Capitol.

The Rules Committee voted 4-2 Wednesday against a measure that would have banned firearms, except by law enforcement officers, in the Senate chambers, galleries and committee rooms.

A proposal to impose a similar ban in the House is pending.

Even if the restrictions were imposed, guns could be carried in certain parts of the Capitol including the rotunda.

Department of Energy

UPDATE 5:30p 2/6: Work has resumed at southeastern New Mexico's nuclear waste repository. But officials say they don't yet know what caused the truck fire that forced an evacuation of the underground site.

A spokesman says an investigation will be conducted at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where low level waste from the nation's nuclear weapons plants is stored in salt beds.

The site was evacuated and six people were treated for smoke inhalation after a truck hauling salt caught fire Wednesday.

Courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Drought conditions across the Southwest have gotten significantly worse over the last few weeks, including in New Mexico.

Take a look at the newest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor map, and you’ll see orange and red smears all across the southwest showing where the drought is impacting the country the most.

Albuquerque hasn’t had a drop of rain for 40 straight days. Chuck Jones is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Gov. Susana Martinez says a boy shot by a classmate at their middle school underwent a second surgery and a girl who was wounded is now in stable condition.

Martinez said at a press conference late Tuesday that the girl has been identified as 13-year-old Kendal Sanders. The wounded boy is in critical condition.

Authorities say the two were shot when a 12-year-old boy opened fire at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell Tuesday morning.

Martinez says the boy pointed the gun at a teacher, who talked him into dropping the weapon. The boy was taken into custody.

Newspaper: Records Withheld In Police Shootings

Jan 10, 2014
The Albuquerque Police Department

A newspaper reports that the Albuquerque Police Department is withholding numerous documents and other material requested in connection with officer-involved police shootings.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the material requested under the state Inspection of Public Records Act in recent months but not provided includes documents, 911 calls and lapel camera videos.

Gov. Susana Martinez is proposing a 3 percent spending increase on education and state government programs next year, but no across-the-board pay raise for public employees.

The Republican governor on Monday released the administration's budget recommendations for the upcoming legislative session. Martinez called for spending nearly $6.1 billion in the fiscal year starting in July, an increase of almost $179 million.

A spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King says a threatened lawsuit by a company that wants to open a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell is an attempt at intimidation.

Spokesman Phil Sisneros says King has taken "a very strong stance" against horse slaughter.

Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn Monday sent letters to the state risk management division, giving the required 30-day notice of its planned legal filing.

The Navajo Nation is challenging a decision in a federal case involving property rights and access to religious sites.

The tribe and its Hopi neighbor agreed in 2006 not to interfere with each other's religious practices when they ended a decades-long land dispute.

The Hopi Tribe sued after the Navajo Nation cited a Hopi religious practitioner for trespassing, alleging breach of the compact.

The Navajo Nation says it cannot grant access to so-called allotted land that is similar to private property on the reservation.

Santa Fe Archdiocese Incorporating Many Parishes

Jan 6, 2014

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe of the Roman Catholic Church has incorporated dozens of its parishes as nonprofits, a move that an attorney who has represented victims of clerical sexual abuse says could be an attempt to protect church assets.

Attorney James Stang of Los Angeles says incorporating parishes as separate entities allows them to argue they have no responsibility for abuses at other parishes.

The motorist who refused to stop during a northern New Mexico police chase on Interstate 25 and was later shot by state police has been identified.

New Mexico State Police said Monday that the motorist was identified as 72-year-old Albert Urban, of Hamburg, N.Y.

The U.S. Department of Justice is set to hold an invite-only meeting with community activists over its pending investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.

Federal authorities have scheduled the closed-door gathering Tuesday in Albuquerque after the number of shootings by officers jumped at the end of 2013.

Advocates say federal officials are expected to give an update on the year-long investigation amid allegations of high-profile abuse cases. The Justice Department launched the probe at the end of 2012.

Santa Fe officials say the northern New Mexico city's population now stands at approximately 82,000 following a major annexation.

Santa Fe officials say 13,200 people became city residents when the latest phase of annexation added 4,100 acres on Thursday.

The annexation effort began in earnest in 2006 and is expected to continue for five more years.

City employees say businesses in the newly annexed areas must now charge the city's gross receipts tax and must pay their employees the city's minimum or living wage.

Photo via

Much of New Mexico is missing out on a White Christmas.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say a weak storm is moving across the northern edge of New Mexico, bringing some extra clouds, colder temperatures and only mountain top flurries.

Once the system passes, New Mexico will be in for warmer weather the rest of the week. Starting Thursday, daytime temperatures are expected to be above average.

Navajo Council Tables Proposal Related To Mine

Dec 24, 2013

Members of the Navajo Nation Council tabled a proposal that would let disputes over a northwestern New Mexico coal mine that's being bought on behalf of the nation be settled in state courts rather than tribal courts.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that the decision to table the proposal on Monday stemmed from discussion over whether it required a super majority for passage.

Delegates will revisit the Navajo Mine proposal Friday.

Univ. of Melbourne - public domain

State health officials are encouraging adults to get vaccinations against a pneumonia-related illness hitting New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Health said this week that the vaccines for pneumococcal disease are now available at many doctors' offices.

Officials say so far this year, around 300 people in New Mexico have been diagnosed with severe pneumococcal disease and 47 have died from their infection.

Court Asked To Mull NM's Teacher Evaluation Plan

Dec 22, 2013
Photo via

Teachers unions and some state lawmakers who are opposed to the New Mexico Public Education Department's teacher evaluation system are asking the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its contention that the program is invalid because it violates state laws.

New Mexico is among several states that will share $11 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for improving the quality of school meals.

The funding will help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient.

In addition to New Mexico, 13 states as well as the District of Columbia and Guam were selected to receive grants based on free- and reduced-price participation in the National School Lunch Program.

San Juan Citizens Alliance/EcoFlight

New Mexico's largest electric utility has a plan for replacing power that will be lost with the proposed shuttering of two units at a coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico that has long been a target for environmentalists.

PNM filed its plan with state regulators late Friday.

While the utility isn't requesting a change in rates now, it's seeking permission to recover costs that will be associated with closing part of the San Juan Generating Station.

Wikimedia Commons

New Mexico's highest court legalized same-sex marriage today, unanimously declaring it unconstitutional to deny a marriage license to gay and lesbian couples.

New Mexico joins 16 states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.

"The important thing is," said Peter Simonson, the Executive Director of the ACLU-New Mexico, "from this moment on, right now, same-sex couples can walk into any County Clerk's Office in the state of New Mexico and be sure that they will be married. That's their choice."

New Mexico State Police

Gov. Susana Martinez says she supports a decision by New Mexico State Police to fire an officer who shot at a minivan full of children during a chaotic October traffic stop.

Martinez said Monday the actions of Officer Elias Montoya were unacceptable and he should not have used deadly force.

No one was hurt in the shooting.

Montoya was fired Friday following an internal investigation and a disciplinary hearing. His attorneys say he plans to appeal.

cobalt123 via Flickr

Winter weather continues to produce difficult driving conditions on New Mexico highways and delays affecting public services.

Crews are plowing Interstate 40 between Clines Corner and Santa Rosa and Interstate 25 between Rowe and Raton.

Delayed openings Friday include state offices in Santa Fe. Schools with delays include Santa Fe Community College and Albuquerque's east mountain schools.

Image is in public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A lawsuit says a New Mexico corrections officer used a "chemical agent" on a woman's genitals after authorities found a plastic baggie protruding from her vagina.

The federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico says the Bernalillo County corrections officer sprayed the chemical agents twice on the woman's genitals during a strip search in Nov. 2011.

ACLU officials say the chemical agent was pepper spray and was used to "punish" the woman.

NM Ski Areas Opening Early Due To Storm's Snowfall

Nov 26, 2013
Flickr Creative Commons

New Mexico's ski season is starting early because of the big snowstorm last weekend.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that ski areas planning to open Thanksgiving Day include Ski Santa Fe, Taos Ski Valley and Ski Apache near Ruidoso.

Ski Santa Fe has 15 inches of new snow, adding up to a 27-inch base.

Taos Ski Valley marketing director Adriana Blake says the resort got 26 inches of snow since Friday and she expects a 35-inch base.

Ski Apache reports 10 inches of new snow and has its snow-making machines going.

Groups Press EPA On Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup

Nov 26, 2013

Two New Mexico citizen groups are repeating demands for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an independent review of the Kirtland Air Force Base groundwater contamination.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Albuquerque-based Citizen Action and the environmental group Amigos Bravos sent a letter last week calling on the EPA to conduct its own preliminary assessment.

Dave McCoy of Citizen Action complained that the Air Force and state Environment Department are not pursuing cleanup "in any meaningful way."

Public domain image.

  A watchdog group has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of nuclear safety records for Sandia National Laboratories.

The suit filed Friday in federal court in Albuquerque alleges the National Nuclear Security Administration has withheld documents and work papers for more than two years about whether nuclear reactors at Sandia have experienced shutdowns, accidents or violated safety regulations.

It also alleges a continuing pattern and practice of wrongful delay by the NNSA to violate the Freedom of Information Act.

Storm Dumps Snow, Leaves 1 Dead In New Mexico, 7 Others Dead Across West

Nov 21, 2013
National Weather Service

UPDATE Mon 6:30a: Snow accumulation with gusty winds are expected today as wintry weather tapers off through tonight.


Snow showers crossing into New Mexico will continue through much of the morning. Local accumulations could reach 1-2"


North winds will develop over the northeast plains in the wake of the departing storm system this afternoon, with gusts expected to reach 50 miles an hour.