Saturday News Roundup: Certain Shipments From Los Alamos Lab Halted

May 3, 2014

Certain Shipments From Los Alamos Lab Halted - The Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy says the shipment of certain kinds of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to a storage facility in west Texas has been halted.

The agency made the announcement Friday, as investigators continue searching for the cause of a Feb. 14 radiation leak at the federal government's underground repository in southeastern New Mexico.

Department officials say investigators are evaluating the contents of a set of drums that came from Los Alamos. The team is looking at the possibility that a chemical reaction may have occurred within a drum, causing a potential release.

Officials say they're looking at all possible causes, including the waste packages themselves.

Los Alamos is under a tight deadline to get waste off its northern New Mexico campus before wildfire season peaks.

Pearce To Hold Meeting On Lesser Prairie Chicken - The Hobbs News-Sun, The Associated Press

Congressman Steve Pearce is slated to host another meeting on the federal government's decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that the Republican will hold a town hall meeting Saturday in Hobbs, New Mexico at the Western Heritage Museum.

Jill McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Pearce's office, said the town hall meeting is for all residents who would like to voice concerns over the bird's listing.

Ranchers and oil companies believe the listing will have a negative effect on the ranching, oil and gas and wind farm industries in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. That's where the chicken's habitat is known.

Democrats In Governor's Race To Meet In Forum - The Associated Press

Democrats running for governor will face off in a candidate forum in the state's largest city.

The event comes a month before Election Day in the June 3 primary.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has no primary opponent.

The Democratic candidates are Attorney General Gary King, state Sens. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City, former government agency administrator Lawrence Rael and Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber.

The Albuquerque forum sponsored by the state Democratic Party offers candidates an opportunity to criticize Martinez and outline policies they'll pursue if elected.

New Mexico voters historically have favored incumbent governors. Martinez's two predecessors — Democrat Bill Richardson and Republican Gary Johnson — each won second terms.

Absentee voting in the primary will start on Tuesday.

Wolf Council Extends Deadline For Ranchers - The Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials say the deadline has been extended for ranchers to apply for payments under a program meant to ease conflicts between Mexican gray wolves and livestock.

Ranchers in parts of New Mexico and Arizona now have until June 2 to apply for the payments.

Officials say the deadline was extended another month.

The chairman of the coexistence council, Sisto Hernandez, says the goal is to increase the number of ranchers who receive financial compensation to offset management costs that result from the presence of wolves.

The payments will be based on a variety of factors, including whether a rancher's land or grazing lease overlaps with wolf territory. Another consideration is the number of surviving wolf pups in the territory.

There are an estimated 83 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.