Tuesday News Roundup: State Warns Air Force On Cleanup Of Kirtland Spill

Apr 29, 2014

State warns Air Force on cleanup of Kirtland spill - The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

New Mexico environmental regulators say the Air Force could face $10,000-per-dayy state fines if the service misses a June 30 deadline to start cleaning groundwater contaminated by a decades-old fuel spill.

A state Environment Department letter says the Air Force's current plan to use bacteria to break down the fuel could miss the June 30 date by up to a year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that it obtained the letter sent last week through a public records request.

Kirtland spokesman Carl Grusnick declined comment on the letter, saying Kirtland remains committed to ensuring that Albuquerque's drinking water remains safe.

The spill was discovered in 1999. Contamination has been found about a mile from the initial leak but no contamination has been detected in municipal drinking water.

NM Considers Permit Changes For Uranium Mill - The Associated Press

State regulators are considering changes to a permit that governs how a mining company cleans up contamination at a former uranium mill in western New Mexico.

The plan by Homestake Mining Co. calls for discharging up to 5,500 gallons a minute as it cleans up the property in Cibola County.

Homestake wants approval from the state to expand its use of reverse osmosis to treat contaminated water and it wants to experiment with other technologies. But critics are concerned the company hasn't provided enough details.

A hearing officer with the state Environment Department began taking testimony Tuesday. It could be months before a final decision is made.

The Homestake site includes tailings that cover more than 200 acres. It's located to the north of five housing subdivisions.

Texas Company To Develop Wind Farm In Union County - The Associated Press

A Texas company has won a bid to build a wind farm in in northeastern New Mexico.

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell announced Monday that Triangle Gallegos of Hereford, Texas, will be developing the project to on 19,000 acres of State Trust Land and 31,000 acres of private land 35 miles west of Clayton in Union County.

Powell says the project ultimately could generate about 500 megawatts of electricity via 285 wind turbines -- enough electricity to supply up to 200,000 homes.

The lease on trust land also will generate about $47 million in revenue for state schools and universities.

N.M. Governor Asks Obama To Protect Missile Range - The Albuquerque Journal, The Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez is asking President Barack Obama and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to make sure that a proposed transmission line between Arizona and New Mexico doesn't hurt the Army's White Sands Missile Range.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Martinez told the top federal officials in an April 22 letter that a Bureau of Land Management proposal to route 45 miles of the SunZia line through the range should be changed to avoid affecting the range's tests and exercises.

The Defense Department opposes the proposed route in southern New Mexico. The BLM is part of the Department of Interior.

The BLM's planning coordinator for New Mexico, Dave Goodman, says the project is stalled until the federal government works out its differences.

Santa Fe Mayor Revises Plaza Traffic-Ban Proposal - The Associated Press

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is revising his proposal to close the northern New Mexico's historic downtown plaza to vehicular traffic. That's as the proposal draws a cool response from a City Council committee.

Gonzales has said he wanted traffic barred to make the plaza friendlier to pedestrians, particular families with children.

He's now proposing that traffic be barred from streets adjacent from the plaza only during summer months, from Memorial Day to early September.

The council's public works committee discussed the proposal and heard testimony on it Monday but ended up making no recommendation.

Most residents who spoke during the committee meeting opposed the idea, and several members said the proposal isn't ready for consideration.

That leaves some doubt about whether and when the full council will consider it.

Sheriff: Dead Woman Might Have Left Behind Video - KOAT-TV, The Associated Press

Authorities believe a woman whose body was found on a New Mexico mesa this month left behind a cellphone video of herself.

KOAT-TV reports Sandoval County Sheriff Doug Wood said Monday the video shows the woman talking about how she had been lost for two days.

Authorities believe the remains might belong to Brenda Salas, a 27-year-old who disappeared in June 2012. A family found the remains Sunday while fossil hunting on the West Mesa, a desert area near Albuquerque.

The video has not been released.

Authorities say DNA tests and dental records could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months. Wood says investigators will show the family the message after they're processed the video and other evidence related to the cellphone.

The medical examiner is investigating the cause of death.

Silver City Newspaper Reopens - The Associated Press

A day after the Silver City Daily Press was set to close, the newspaper says it is continuing operations under new ownership.

An announcement on the newspaper's web site Tuesday says the family-owned Silver City Daily Press Publishing Co. late Monday agreed to sell the paper to a company headed by former Daily Press General Manager Nickolas Siebel.

Siebel says he financed the purchase largely through loans from community members who shared his love for the publication.

He says the majority of the previous staff has agreed to join the new operation, which will continue publishing in print and online five days a week.

The newspaper, which has been published for the last 79 years by the Ely family, on Friday announced plans to shutter because of declining ad revenues.