New Mexico in Focus, New Mexico PBS one-hour public affairs show, airs Fridays at 7 p.m. and repeats on Sundays at 7 a.m. on Channel 5.1 and Saturdays at 5 p.m. on Channel 9.1, except during pledge drives.
This week NMiF looks at WIPP. It has been five months since a radiation leak shut down the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M., the nation’s only disposal site for defense-related transuranic waste. But key questions remain, including what caused the leak and how much radiation was released into the underground salt mine.
Correspondent Gwyneth Doland speaks with New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn and Joe Franco, Carlsbad field office manager for the Department of Energy, as well as Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, and George Anastas, a nuclear engineer who was part of the now-defunct Environmental Evaluation Group, which monitored WIPP.
The Line opinion panel discusses the recent visit by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to the center in Artesia that is expected to house up to 700 immigrants, part of a surge in immigration from Central America, especially unaccompanied children. Johnson warned immigrants the U.S. would send them back to their countries of origin. But activists are concerned that some immigrants may have legitimate asylum claims and other legal assistance requirements that will be difficult to meet in a remote place like Artesia. Meanwhile a number of private companies stand to benefit from increased spending on the immigration crisis, including one owned by Senate candidate Allen Weh.
The group will also discuss plans to raise admission standards for incoming freshmen at New Mexico State University. The NMSU board of regents may vote to raise the GPA for incoming freshmen to 2.75 from 2.5. A similar idea is now under discussion at UNM as well, but it has been controversial in the past with critics arguing that such a change could disproportionately impact minority students. University officials argue raising the bar would also raise graduation rates.
- George Anastas, Nuclear Engineer and Health Physicist
- Ryan Flynn, Secretary, New Mexico Environment Department
- Joe Franco, Manager, Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office
- Don Hancock, Director, Nuclear Waste Safety Program, Southwest Research and Information Center
- Russell Contreras, Associated Press
- Rob Nikolewski, New Mexico Watchdog
- Laura Sanchez-Rivét, Sanchez Legal Solutions
- Harry Van Buren, associate professor, Anderson School of Management
- Gwyneth Doland
- Gene Grant
Producer of NMiF is Megan Kamerick. Associate Producer is Kathy Wimmer. Funding for this program was provided in part by the McCune Foundation Communications Fund, Santa Fe Community Foundation.