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May 28 First News: Los Alamos Nuke Waste In West Texas Getting Special Treatment (Listen)

Dozens of containers of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory are being packed as a precaution into concrete casks at a temporary storage facility in West Texas.

The waste was shipped to Andrews, Texas, due to the closure of the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February because of a radiation release. Investigators have focused on a container from Los Alamos as the possible cause of the release. Workers at the Texas facility are taking thermal readings of the waste containers before loading them into the concrete casks. The casks are then filled with gravel. Equipment inside the casks monitors the internal temperature on a daily basis. Cameras are also monitoring the area where the waste is being stored.

A transmission line that would transport solar and wind-derived power across New Mexico and into western markets has received the green light from the U-S Department of Defense, which had previously opposed it. The D-O-D had said the Sun-Zia transmission line’s presence would reduce testing at southern New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range by 30-percent, thereby jeopardizing national security. But Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated in a letter the issue could be solved by burying the line for its five-mile stretch through White Sands. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich calls the new development, “a pivotal turning point in this process. *****052814-Heinrich-1 (q: there’s high demand) :29***** The Sun-Zia line is expected to generate $1.2 billion in private investment, but had faced opposition from the Defense Department.

The Cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque are being targeted in voter-petition drives that seek to reduce penalties for marijuana possession.  The Drug Policy Alliance and Progress Now New Mexico say they have filed petitions with the city clerks in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and plan to collect the required signatures to have the measures considered. Under the proposed ballot measures, a person caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would face a 25-dollar fine under city code rather than a criminal charge and potential jail time. The groups say reducing the penalties for low-level marijuana offenders offers a way to save communities and the state money. They say police officers would also have more time to focus on more serious offenses.

A local Santa Fe business has neighbors holding their noses. KSFR reporter Sophie Wickert has the story: *****34 Std*****

The Gila National Forest has reopened some recreation sites that were closed because of a wildfire that burned eight-and-a-half square miles about 10 miles north of Silver City. The Silver City Sun-News reports that the sites could be reopened because the Signal Fire is fully contained.

Most of the nearly 600 firefighting personnel had been reassigned, though some remain to mop up hot spots and patrol fire lines.  Service forest roads and trails in the area remain closed.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny, today with a slight chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon. Today's high, 79 Tonight: Partly cloudy with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms and a low down to 54. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms after noon, and a high near 80.