The Department of Energy is expected to detail its plans for sealing off areas of its troubled underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico. New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn has given federal officials and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad until this afternoon to submit its plans for permanently sealing the two underground rooms where more than 300 barrels of potentially dangerous containers of waste are stored. The waste was packed with cat litter to absorb moisture. Officials are investigating whether a switch from inorganic to organic litter is to blame for a chemical reaction with nitrate salts believed to have caused a February leak that contaminated 22 workers and indefinitely shuttered the plant.
The Higher Education Department says there's enough money in the state's lottery-financed scholarship program to provide full awards in the fall semester to eligible New Mexico college students. The department made the announcement in a letter sent Thursday to universities and colleges. Lawmakers changed the program earlier this year to shore up its finances. The scholarships used to cover 100 percent of tuition. But with the changes, students will receive the average tuition for the type of college they're attending or full tuition at their school if it's lower.State law requires scholarship reductions if there's not enough money to cover average tuition.
Santa Fe area residents are advised to be aware of a new phone scheme. New Mexico State Police say some are receiving calls from an individual claiming to be a part of the law-enforcement agency. This individual then gives the name, Barry Miller, Nick Miller or Derrick Miller and tells the phone call recipient that they must contact an attorney by the name of Jack Conway regarding a lawsuit involving them. The caller then says if they don’t law enforcement will be sent to pick them up. State Police advises residents to not provide any financial or personal information to the caller. If you have any information or questions contact NMSP.
A judge has ordered New Mexico officials to review the process the state used to award a contract for a new standardized test to be given high school students starting next spring. A multistate consortium in early May awarded a contract to Pearson, an international education company, to create an online test aligned with the Common Core Standards. The Washington D.C.-based American Institute for Research protested, saying the bid process unfairly benefited Pearson because it previously worked with the consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. State officials say the contract process was open and fair, but District Court Judge Sarah Singleton this week ordered the state to review the institute's protest.The Albuquerque Journal reports that the contract is on hold pending the review.
It's unanimous. Both New Mexico Senators and all 3 Representatives say Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign. This rare agreement among four Democrats, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce follows release of a preliminary Inspector General's report detailing "systemic" problems at V-A Hospitals, including those in Phoenix and, Udall says, Albuquerque. While noting their respect for General Shinseki's record: he is a decorated war veteran, the State delegation said new leadership is required at the top of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny with isolated showers and thunderstorms and a high near 77. Tonight: Partly cloudy, with isolated showers and thunderstorms with a low around 54. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny, with isolated showers and thunderstorms and a high near 81. There's a 20-percent chance of precipitation through tomorrow.