Alibi V.26 No.26 • June 29-July 5, 2017 


Los Alamos Lab Under Investigation

The News Monkey

Federal regulators announced last week that they will be investigating Los Alamos National Laboratory for improperly handling nuclear material. The lab reportedly shipped mislabeled “special nuclear material” on commercial cargo flights to two laboratories in the US—a direct violation of federal regulations. The material had been packaged for ground transport, but the documents by Los Alamos National Laboratory were instead prepared for air shipment, according to a statement released by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The announcement was made after the lab informed the NNSA that proper procedures were not followed when shipping the unspecified amount of “special nuclear material.” Officials confirmed that the shipment—which was shipped to facilities in California and South Carolina—did not suffer any loss of radioactive material and was not contaminated, but NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, USAF (Ret) called the breach in procedure “absolutely unacceptable.” This latest incident follows reports that the lab shipped improperly labeled waste material to a facility in Colorado multiple times in the past year. Last week, the Center for Public Integrity published a series of federal documents detailing a large number of safety violations—including the mishandling of plutonium—over the last few years which have caused regulators to be concerned with the overall performance of the lab. Authorities at the NNSA have stated that they plan to “use the full terms and conditions of the contract [with Los Alamos National Laboratory] to ensure that any responsible parties are held accountable.”

New PED Chief Calls for More Reform

Christopher Ruszkowski replaced Hanna Skandera as acting secretary of the Public Education Department last week. Ruszkowski, who helped develop New Mexico's plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, worked for the Delaware Department of Education before becoming a deputy secretary for the New Mexico Public Education Department in 2016, where he oversaw research agenda, policies and academic priorities, school grades and pre-kindergarten. In his role as acting secretary, Ruszkowski stated that he wants to institute a new report card system for the higher education programs that train the state's teachers. He also stressed the importance of modernizing our schools, saying that N.M. education policies are based on “20th-century thinking.” He said he will be visiting school districts around the state for ideas on how to improve our education system. Ruszkowski was named acting secretary of education by Gov. Susana Martinez earlier this month when Skandera—who was criticized throughout her tenure as education secretary for not having experience as a teacher—made the announcement that she would step down. Ruszkowski, who holds a master’s degree in educational policy from Stanford University, taught social studies for two years at a public middle school in Miami and English for a year in Boston.