• Improving oil recovery, aiding environmental cleanup

    Researchers have taken a new look at an old, but seldom-used technique developed by the petroleum industry to recover oil, and learned more about why it works, how it could be improved, and how it might be able to make a comeback not only in oil recovery but also environmental cleanup

  • Federal mapping tool used in Gulf spill expanded to Arctic

    A new federal interactive online mapping tool used by emergency responders during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been expanded to include the Arctic, and will help address numerous challenges in the Arctic posed by increasing ship traffic and proposed energy development

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  • Earthquake risk looms large in the Pacific Northwest

    A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency

  • Under industry pressure, DHS drops chemical plant employee screening proposal

    Security experts agree that short of a nuclear attack on a U.S. city, the most casualty-heavy disaster would occur as a result of an accident in, or a terrorist attack on, a chemical plant which would release a cloud of toxic fumes; there are about 15,000 plants in the United States which produce, process, use, or store volatile and toxic chemicals; more than 300 of the these plants are so close to large population centers, that a chemical release in any one of them would cause more than 50,000 casualties; DHS wanted to have employees in these plants screened for potential ties terrorism, but the chemical industry objected, saying this would be too costly; last Thursday DHS pulled the proposal

  • New, affordable instant warnings of bridge collapse

    The Federal Bureau of Transportation lists nearly 70,000 U.S. bridges as “structurally deficient,” requiring extra surveillance; in addition, more than 77,000 others are categorized as “obsolete” — exceeding their intended lifespan and carrying loads greater than they were designed to handle; researchers developed a new technology for monitoring these 150,000 aging U.S. highway bridges

  • Men in maritime disasters save themselves first --“women and children first” is a myth

    Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members give priority to passengers; a new study find that the Titanic disaster, in which 70 percent of the women and children on board were saved compared to 20 percent of the men, is a glaring exception to the rule; during maritime disasters, men use their relative strength to save themselves; what is more, studies of human behavior during natural disasters show the same results: in life-and-death situations, it is every man for himself

  • Measuring DHS effectiveness monitoring chemical plant safety standards

    The events of 9/11 triggered a national re-examination of the security of facilities that use or store hazardous chemicals in quantities which, in the event of a terrorist attack, could put large numbers of Americans at risk of serious injury or death; the GAO issued a report on how DHS ensures compliance with chemical facilities security standards

  • Science group: storing spent nuclear fuel in dry casks significantly safer then wet pools storage

    An NRC report on the lessons of the Fukushima disaster says that storing spent nuclear fuel in wet pools is “adequate” to protect the public; a science groups says there is a significantly safer way to store the 55,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored by the 104 nuclear power plants operating in the United States: transferring the spent fuel to dry casks

  • Chronic 2000-4 U.S. drought, worst in 800 years, may be the "new normal"

    The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century

  • Large, magnitude 8 earthquakes hit New Zealand with regularity

    A new study finds that very large earthquakes have been occurring relatively regularly on the Alpine Fault along the southwest coastline of New Zealand for at least 8,000 years

  • Studying the physics of avalanches

    Snow avalanches, a real threat in countries from Switzerland to Afghanistan, are fundamentally a physics problem: What are the physical laws that govern how they start, grow, and move, and can theoretical modeling help predict them? New study offers answers

  • Calculating the global health consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

    Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may eventually cause approximately 130 deaths and 180 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan; researchers have calculated; the estimates have large uncertainty ranges, but contrast with previous claims that the radioactive release would likely cause no severe health effects

  • FDNY conducts live fire tests to test improvements in fire department tactics

    In the name of science, but with aim of saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing property losses, members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) spent much of the first two weeks in July setting fire to twenty abandoned townhouses on Governors Island, about a kilometer from the southern tip of Manhattan

  • Small, local energy technologies to help sustain vital services during blackouts

    Researchers suggest that rethinking the solution to sustaining electric power — namely, starting small — could keep critical services going, even when the high-voltage grid is crippled; the U.S. military is already taking steps to protect its power supplies in the event of a massive grid failure by adopting small, local energy technologies, and California governor Jerry Brown recently announced that he wants 12,000 megawatts of such power supplies in his state

  • Explaining 2011 extreme weather events

    2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme weather events, both in the United States and around the world; NOAA says that every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment; a comprehensive annual report – State of the Climate in 2011 — provides scientists and citizens with an analysis of what has happened so organizations and individuals can prepare for what is to come