Feb. 27 First News: Tests Reveal 13 WIPP Workers Were Exposed to Radiation (Listen)
Test results reveal that 13 employees of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were exposed to radiation the day a radiation leak was detected at the southeastern New Mexico nuclear waste repository. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the workers tested positive for americium-241, one of the radiation particles emitted from the transuranic waste deposited at the facility. Elevated radiation levels have also been detected in the air around the plant, but officials say there is no public health threat.
Santa Fe has become the first city in the state to impose a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, amended by City Councilors Wednesday night to remove a 10-cent a bag fee for paper bags distributed by retailers to customers, takes effect today, with a 30-day grace period before the law is enforced.
Electric car maker Tesla Motors is considering sites in New Mexico and three other states for a massive battery factory that would employ 65-hundred people. Tesla plans to start construction this year and complete the factory in 2017. The California firm expects the factory to supply enough batteries for the 500-thousand cars it hopes to make by 2020.
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has declared thousands of square miles of drought-stricken New Mexico are now off-limits to fireworks, open fires and smoking until further notice. Powell says he's taking the action to prevent catastrophic wildfires from starting on state trust land. In addition to the prohibitions, Powell says the Land Office is working on forest thinning projects and prescribed fires are planned to reduce fuel loads.
Another veteran member of the State House of Representatives has announced he's retiring from the New Mexico Legislature. Democratic Representative Edward Sandoval of Albuquerque—chair of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee—says he wants to focus on his family and personal life. The 67-year old has been in the House since 1983. He is the eighth House member to announce plans to retire from the 70-member House.
Governor Susana Martinez has named federal prosecutor Greg Fouratt to run the Department of Public Safety. Fouratt has worked as a federal prosecutor in New Mexico for 17 years and served as the state's U.S. Attorney. Fouratt succeeds Gorden Eden, who stepped down to become Albuquerque's police chief. The Public Safety Secretary oversees the State Police, Motor Transportation Police and the Law Enforcement Academy. Fouratt's appointment comes as State Police are under scrutiny for recent shootings.
Santa Fe Weather: Partly sunny today, with a high near 58 and a 20 percent chance of showers after noon. Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30.A chance of rain showers before midnight, then a chance of snow showers. Chance of precipitation is 30-percent. Tomorrow: Partly sunny, with a high near 58.