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 Apr 5 - 11, 2018 
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NMED to Fine Los Alamos Labs

The News Monkey

The New Mexico Environment Department says the Los Alamos National Laboratory stored hazardous waste containers for longer than federal law allows.

According to the Los Alamos Monitor, Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief John Kieling wrote a letter to LANL officials accusing them of storing 2 waste containers for longer than 90 days—the federal legal limit. According to Kieling, the lab held the containers in central accumulation storage areas for 20 days past the limit before contacting NMED. The letter also alleges LANL stored three other hazardous waste containers over their allotted one-year storage time limit. Penalties for each violation could reportedly cost as much as $10,000 a day for violating the state’s Hazardous Waste Management regulations.

A spokesperson for the laboratory told reporters that LANL's “emphasis” on meeting state requirements is “showing a positive trend.”

Martinez Expense Account Reveals Spending

Records obtained last month show that Governor Susana Martinez spent more than $58,268 last year from a state expense account that is exempt from audits.

The New Mexican reports that records obtained by their investigators detail the expenditures associated with a bank account set up by the state in the governor's name—used as an account to cover any expenses encountered while fulfilling her duties and exempt from any sort of auditing.

The reports, gathered using the state's Inspection of Public Records Act, were submitted by Martinez quarterly to the Department of Finance and Administration. They are currently the only oversight for the fund and reportedly show that Martinez spent around $33,400 on food and beverages in 2017. They also say the governor spent about $3,900 on supplies—decorations, cleaning products and office materials—and about $3,100 on contract services for events. Of the total spent, $3,368 went to what are labeled as “subscriptions” and $14,500 were labeled “miscellaneous.”

In her first 7 years, the governor reportedly spent about $477,000 in contingency funds at an average of about $68,000 a year. Martinez' salary is $110,000 a year.

Earlier this year, Martinez signed legislation that will make the account more transparent by moving it to the state treasury. This law will not go into effect until Martinez has left office.

Native American Education Leader Fired

The state's assistant secretary for Native American education wrote a letter to the state's tribal elders last week, claiming she was forced out of her position by state officials without being given a proper reason.

According to the two-page letter—obtained by New Mexico In Depth—Latifah Phillips says she was approached with a termination letter with “no explanation or any known documented reasoning.” She claims she was given the opportunity to resign without harming her professional record, but refused as a “small act of protest.”

The New Mexico Public Education Department's Indian Education Division has not publicly commented on the termination. DeAlva Calabaza was reportedly named the acting assistant secretary.

 
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