KUNM News Update
8:40 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Monday News Roundup: New Mexico Says 57 Nuke Containers Could Be Threat

New Mexico Says 57 Nuke Containers Could Be Threat  -  The Associated Press

The New Mexico Environment Department says Los Alamos National Laboratory packed 57 containers of nuclear waste with a type of kitty litter thought to have caused a radiation leak at the federal government's troubled repository.

Department Secretary Ryan Flynn on Monday gave the lab two days to submit a plan for fixing the problem, saying the barrels may "present an imminent and substantial threat" to public health and the environment.

He says the barrels were packed with nitrate salts and organic kitty litter, a combination thought to have caused a heat reaction and radiation release. The litter soaks up any liquid before drums of waste are sealed and shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Only two of those containers are thought to be at WIPP, meaning the rest are stored at the lab or at a temporary site in west Texas.

Proposed Marijuana Rules For Add, Increase FeesThe Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal New rules proposed by state officials would require medical marijuana users in New Mexico to pay a new $50 fee annually to renew their state registry cards and also triple some producers' annual license fees to up to $90,000. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal producers say the proposed regulations would force growers to raise prices, which would encourage users to seek out illegal sources.

Department spokesman Kenny Vigil says the higher fee for producers would apply only to those who choose to grow additional plants.

The proposed rules also would allow producers to grow more plants, and Vigil says that change is intended to expand the supply of medical marijuana.

He says the new $50 fee for users is intended to help pay for the department's operational costs.

 

Containment Of New Mexico Fire Reaches 70 Percent - The Associated Press

A southwestern New Mexico wildfire is holding at 9 square miles as crews have increased containment to 70 percent but are bracing for troublesome weather.

Fire managers say critical fire weather began over the weekend and is expected to continue through Friday with warmer temperatures, low humidity and higher wind.

Approximately 700 firefighters and other personnel are assigned to the fire. Aircraft also are on hand to drop retardant and water on the fire.

The human-caused fire started burning in rugged terrain about 10 miles north of Silver City on May 11.

Fire Danger High In Much Of Southwest - The Associated Press

Warm, hot weather and gusty winds are raising the risk of wildfires in the Southwest.

Red flag warnings have been posted Monday for Colorado Springs and other parts of Colorado as well as New Mexico and Arizona. The danger is also high in the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Kansas

On the plains of southeastern Colorado, temperatures are expected to hit the 90s.

Any fires that start are likely to spread quickly.

Conditions have improved somewhat in California, where ocean breezes and lower temperatures over the weekend helped firefighters gain the upper hand on wildfires there.

Santa Fe Police Aid Teen In Donor Search The Associated Press

Police in Santa Fe are hoping to help a 16-year-old girl find a bone marrow donor.

The police department says it will host a donor drive Monday for Miquela Martinez, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in November.

They say the disease attacks blood produced in her bone marrow.

In addition, Martinez, of Ojo Caliente, suffers from severe aplastic anemia.

Officials say the teen, who loves to snowboard and scuba dive, must be confined to a hospital bed and receives blood infusions several times a day.

Santa Fe police officers will be holding the drive from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in front of police headquarters.

Potential donors must be between 18 and 44 years old.

Lawyer Named To New Mexico's State Personnel Board – The Associated Press

An Albuquerque lawyer has been named by Gov. Susana Martinez to a board that handles appeals of personnel cases involving state workers.

Megan Muirhead was appointed to the five-member State Personnel Board, which hears appeals by workers when they are fired or demoted by state agencies.

Several years ago when the state faced budget shortfalls, it was the responsibility of Personnel Board members to decide whether to approve plans by government administrators for furloughs and employee layoffs.

Muirhead earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1996, and she received a bachelor's degree in political science from the same university in 1993.

Muirhead's appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

Las Cruces Pursuing $3M In Unpaid Red-Light Fines The Las Cruces Sun News

Red-light enforcement cameras may be gone from Las Cruces, but the fines are not forgotten.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the city still intends to pursue nearly $3 million in unpaid fines for red-light runners.

The city opted in February not to renew its contract with Redflex Traffic Systems and crews removed the cameras from intersections this week.

The cameras had been present for six years.

Officials say they don't have solid data indicating that the cameras at three busy intersections are producing results.

City Manager Robert Garza says motorists with outstanding citations are expected to pay them but they can also appeal.

Garza says Redflex will likely seek payment too since that is how the company gets paid for its services.

Forest Service Reviews Taos Ski Valley Raid The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

A U.S. Forest Service report is promising better communication with Taos Ski Valley after a federal drug raid left visitors and employees outraged.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the agency released a review Thursday, saying officers should have considered the impression created by bringing a muzzled police canine into a crowded ski lodge.

Authorities say four armed Taos Forest Service officers and a dog conducted a raid Feb. 22 in Taos Ski Valley's parking area and nearby roads.

Officials say the area was especially busy with a breast-cancer awareness fundraiser and a teen athletic competition.

Lodge operators say the raid had a negative impact on the ski area's image and questioned the tone and demeanor of officers.

The officers, however, say they found 13 violations including speeding and marijuana possession.

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