Feb. 25 First News: Meeting Held on Radiation Leaks From WIPP (Listen)

Feb 25, 2014

Officials investigating a leak from federal government's only underground nuclear waste dump are telling skeptical southeastern New Mexico residents that their health is safe. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports about 300 people attended a two-hour meeting Monday night to discuss recent events at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Officials concede that the first-ever known release of radiation from one of the underground waste storage tunnels more than a week ago is very serious. But they insist the elevated amounts of radiation that have been detected in and around the plant offer no more risk than a dental X-ray or an airline flight. However, not everyone is convinced. One resident questioned how officials could make such assertions when so many samples have yet to be analyzed and so little is yet known about what happened.


The Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners meets this afternoon, and one of the agenda items is final action on a living wage ordinance that will put the County on par with the City of Santa Fe, wage-wise. Commissioner Liz Stefanics, who's co-sponsoring the ordinance along with Commissioner Miguel Chavez, stresses the living wage still isn't very much.*****022514-Stefanics-Wage-2 :30***** Stefanics believes the majority if not all of her Commission colleagues support paying more to people.


Meantime, a proposal to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors is also before County Commissioners today. Commissioner Stefanics, who along with Commissioner Robert Anaya, is sponsoring the ordinance. Stefanics says the County is taking the action while awaiting rules and guidelines on e-cigs from the Federal Government. *****022514-Stefanics-Ecigs-2 :20***** Legislation to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors failed during the legislative session that ended last week.


The University of New Mexico now has a sixth supercomputer, and plans to use it for genome and biomedical research. KOAT-TV reports the supercomputer was gift from the New Mexico Consortium. It's named Ulam after renowned mathematician and Manhattan Project scientist Stanislaw Ulam. The director of UNM's Center for Advanced Research Computing, Susan Atlas, says advanced computing needs are growing exponentially and the supercomputer will play an important role in supporting the work of researchers in the biology department and at the UNM Cancer Center.


A Santa Fe man who practiced dentistry from his car, despite not having a dentist's license will go on trial in August. The Albuquerque Journal says 37-year old Eliver Kestler, also known as “El Dentista,” treated several people, including a 45-year-old woman who claimed she paid Kestler 400-dollars to extract four front teeth and then contracted an infection and never got any replacement teeth. Kestler is jailed on a 25-thousand dollar bond in Santa Fe County's lockup.


Democratic State Representative Ernest Chavez of Albuquerque on Monday became the sixth legislator to announce plans to retire from the 70-member House. Chavez, who's 77, missed the entire 30-day legislative session that concluded last week due to his age and health reasons. Chavez, who was elected in 2004, says he will continue serving through December when his term expires.


Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today, with a high near 62. Mostly cloudy tonight, with a low around 28. North wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast after midnight. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with a high of 54.