• Good business: Developers make buildings more disaster-secure than building code requires

    A Florida developer hopes to get more business by making his building hurricane-proof; with debris-resistant windows on all thirty-five of its stories, the developer says the building would withstand a Category 5 hurricane without significant damage; the extra hurricane proofing built into the Miami building shows that sometimes the private market can overtake the public sector when it comes to building design and safety standards; for example, in New York and Washington, D.C., some developers have put in anti-terrorism safeguards that exceed building codes

  • Chemical industry welcomes extension of current chemical facilities security measure

    The U.S. chemical industry breathes a sigh of relief: a senate panel votes unanimously to extend current chemical facilities security law to 4 October 2013; the industry worried about modifications to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (CFATS) which would make the measure more stringent — for example, by requiring the chemical plants replace the more toxic and volatile chemicals they use with inherently safer technologies, or IST

  • 3,000 chemical-filled barrels washed into major northeast China river

    Severe floods in China’s Jilin Province carried about 3,000 barrels containing toxic chemicals into the Songhuajiang River in Jilin City; in addition, 4,000 empty barrels containing chemical residues were also washed into the river — a major source of drinking water and fishing; each chemical-filled barrel contains about 170 kilograms of chemicals

  • X Prize to offer millions for Gulf oil cleanup solution

    The X Prize Foundation will tomorrow launch its Oil Cleanup X Challenge promising millions of dollars for winning ways to clean up crude oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico; past X Prize categories include mapping genomes, making an incredibly fuel efficient car, and exploring the moon’s surface with a robotic vehicle

  • Research shows promise for nuclear fusion test reactors

    Fusion powers the stars and could lead to a limitless supply of clean energy. A fusion power plant would produce ten times more energy than a conventional nuclear fission reactor, and because the deuterium fuel is contained in seawater, a fusion reactor’s fuel supply would be virtually inexhaustible

  • Senate panels to discuss high-risk chemical facilities

    This is an important week in chemical facilities security legislation, as two Senate panels are set to hold hearings on how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DHS can most effectively monitor the security measures taken by U.S. chemical facilities:

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  • Flawed predictions of coal, CO2 production lead to flawed climate models, says research

    Most current climate change models assume unlimited coal and fossil fuel production for the next 100 years; one expert says this is an unrealistic premise which skews climate change models and proposed solutions; since widely accepted studies predict coal production will peak and decline after 2011, the expert says that climate change predictions should be revised to account for this inevitable peak and decline

  • It will cost $77 billion to shore up U.S. ground transportation infrastructure

    It would cost $77.7 billion to bring the U.S. mass transit systems, bus and rail included, into a state of good repair; most of the $77.7 billion backlog can be attributed to rail, but more than 40 percent of the U.S. buses also are in poor to marginal condition; in addition, an annual average of $14.4 billion would be required to maintain the systems

  • 150,000 U.S. bridges are rated "deficient"

    About 25 percent of the U.S. bridges remain “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete”; the deterioration of bridges in the United States is the direct result of a confluence of three developments: the system is aging; the costs of maintaining bridges is high; and traffic on these bridges is steadily increasing

  • Laser pulses to help in creating the most detailed map of California coastline ever assembled

    A $3.3 million mapping effort will see researchers in an airplane flying back and forth along the California coast shooting thousands of laser pulses per second at the rocks, beaches, and cliffs along the 1,200-mile shoreline from Mexico to Oregon, generating ultra-detailed 3-D images of the contours of the land in huge computer files; findings could be used to figure out where to build sea walls, or expand wetlands to reduce flooding, or where to move existing development

  • EC to decide on how to advance ITER nuclear fusion project

    Delays and cost overruns have cast a cloud over a multi-billion-dollar European nuclear fusion project aiming to make the power that fuels the sun a practical energy source on Earth; tomorrow, the EC meets tomorrow to decide on how to proceed with the ITER project, which is now expected to cost around €15 billion and be completed in 2019

  • BP accused of trying to buy the silence of scientists on spill

    BP is accused of trying to buy the silence of leading scientists: the company offering scientists and researchers lucrative contracts to participate in developing restoration plan for the Gulf after the oil spill — but: the scientists are not allowed to publish the research they do for the oil giant; they are also not allowed to speak about the data for at least three years or until the government gives final approval for the company’s restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf; the company would not allow scientists to take total control of the data or the freedom to make those data available to other scientists and subject to peer review; in the case of the University of South Alabama, BP offered to sign up the entire marine sciences department

  • Rubber dam at Tempe Town Lake bursts, emptying lake overnight

    An inflatable rubber dam (called “bladder”) on Tempe’s Town Lake exploded, sending a wall of water into the Salt River bed; at least three-quarters of the about one billion gallons of water had drained overnight; those parts of the rubber dam which are wet have held up, but a plan to keep those parts of the dam which are above water failed, exposing the rubber to scorching sun that has damaged the material

  • U.S. chemical industry comes out swinging against new Senate plant security bill

    Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) introduced a 107-page chemical plant safety bill which goes further than a similar bill — HR-2868 — approved by the House last November; Lautenberg’s bill requires the highest-risk facilities replace the most toxic and volatile chemicals they use with inherently safer technology (IST); it also set a provision, known as private right of action (PRA), which would allow citizens to file suit in federal court against DHS to force enforcement against a specific facility, and would allow private citizen petitions to DHS to demand federal investigation of suspected security shortcomings at particular sites