• Concerns about Illinois nuclear safety trigger inspections

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is currently performing Special Inspections at the Byron and Braidwood Nuclear plants in Illinois after issues were identified in February and March of 2011; at issue is the ability of pumps to cool the reactor in case of a reactor trip or any reason the system for heat removal became unavailable at both Byron and Braidwood stations which are similar in design

  • Easing contamination fears in Japan's food industry

    With much of Japan’s manufacturing sector, land, and critical infrastructure badly damaged from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, dairy and rice manufacturers have struggled to produce enough to feed the nation; Japan produces all of its own milk, rice, and yogurt products, but domestic plants are operating far below full capacity; shortages may persist into the summer; as production ramps up, fears of contamination from radiation leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may dampen consumption; one analyst suggests that Japan institute a food tracking program that will allow consumers to track the production of food every step of the way to help ease fears

  • Wastewater-treatment system to produce electricity

    Scientists will bio-engineer bacteria to break down large amounts of solid waste using anaerobic digestion (without oxygen) in a reactor based on existing technology used by distilleries and pharmaceutical companies; they hope to be able to capture the gas from the process to generate electricity. Because the system would not produce other waste products, they also hope it could improve wastewater treatment in the developed world

  • Maui proposes $44 million for water infrastructure projects

    Alan Arakawa, the mayor of Maui County, has proposed spending nearly $44 million on water infrastructure projects in 2012, a sharp increase of $20 million from current spending levels;the budget increases would go to the Department of Water Supply which has requested funding to undertake several critical infrastructure investments; the department would allocate $10 million to rehabilitate the Waikamoi flume, which is a critical source of water for Upcountry residents; the department also wants to spend $200,000 to improve water pipelines in Paia-Haiuku and $2.3 million for Wailuku-Kahului water source improvements; council members have balked at the large budget increases needed to pay for these projects

  • Wastewater employee charged with terrorism after idling plant

    A 43-year old waste water facility employee was the sole employee during the night shift at the massive Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant in Gilbert, Arizona; last Friday night, armed with a hand gun, the employee walked through the facility alone, methodically turning off major operating systems at the plant; left untreated, the sewage in the system would cause a buildup of methane gas, which could cause a huge explosion; after a 2-hour stand-off, the police arrested the man, allowing other employees to turn on the treatment systems; the employee is being held on a $250,000 bond, charged with terrorism

  • Massachusetts to spend record $1.2 billion on road and bridge projects

    This year Massachusetts is on track to spend a record $1.2 billion on state road and bridge projects, more than double what it spent in 2007; the state’s latest project is the repair of a structurally deficient bridge over Lake Lashaway and the reconstruction of a dam spillway near the bridge in the town of East Brookfield; the reconstruction of the bridge comes as part of a broader effort by Governor Deval Patrick to invest record amounts of funding in critical infrastructure repairs; last year, the Governor spent nearly a billion dollars on 400 road and bridge projects across the state; a recent study found that one in nine bridges in Massachusetts was in need of repair

  • Portable military barriers help Canadian city in flood fight

    Canada is using a new technology to prevent flood damage in Manitoba; the one-meter-square wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud; they can also be linked for a long row that can be set up far quicker than it takes to sling sandbags; the barriers have been used by the U.S. military to protect embassies from terrorist attacks, and have also been used for flood protection in the United States

  • Huawei tries to crack U.S. market again with U.S. Cellular deal

    Chinese giant Huawei Technologies Co. recently announced that it was the finalist for a contract to build a fourth generation wireless network for U.S. Cellular Corp, the nation’s sixth largest wireless carrier; in response to the deal, U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to President Obama to permanently stop Huawei’s efforts to sell network infrastructure in the United States; in the past, lawmakers have vocally opposed Huawei’s attempts to enter the U.S. market fearing that the telecom giant would install equipment that contains bugs that would make it easier for China to steal information, shut down communications, or make networks easier to hack; Huawei is the world’s second largest telecom manufacturer

  • Release of radioactive water into ocean stopped

    Radioactive water stopped flowing from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean Wednesday after a special material was used, the utility said; the release, which began Monday, was described as an unavoidable process to avert a much bigger problem resulting from the leakage of the highly contaminated water; in terms of volume, about three million gallons of low-level radioactive water will have been dumped into the seas; the flooded basement of the buildings and their underground trenches at Nos. 1, 2, and 3 reactors are believed to hold about 60,000 tons of the more highly radioactive water; this water, which is also preventing workers from doing other emergency work, eventually will be stored in tanks at the reactors’ nuclear waste disposal sites, the government nuclear safety agency said. Those tanks will be shipped by the end of this month, the agency said

  • Modeling shows limited spread of Fukushima's radioactive release in ocean

    Daily computer simulations are suggesting that, so far, the hazardous radioactive materials being released into the sea by the Fukushima nuclear plants are still largely restricted to areas near the coast; the powerful Kuroshiro current — the Pacific’s version of the Gulf Stream — tends to block contaminated seawater from flowing southward toward Tokyo Bay while picking up little contamination itself

  • IAEA: after Japan, no more nuclear "business as usual"

    The world cannot take a “business as usual” approach to nuclear power in the wake of the disaster in Japan, UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said; “Thinking retrospectively, the measures taken by the operators as a safety measure (were) not sufficient to prevent this accident,” Amano said; he added that the crisis in Japan caused by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami “has enormous implications for nuclear power and confronts all of us with a major challenge”

  • Scientific explanation overturned -- good news for nuclear fusion

    A team of Duke University researchers has discovered, much to its surprise, that a long-accepted explanation of how nuclei collide to produce charged particles for electricity — a process receiving intense interest lately from scientists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis — is flat out wrong; the discovery of the error makes nuclear reactors based on fusion more realistic

  • Subterranean salt beds to keep U.S. nuclear waste

    Beds of salt up to one kilometer thick lie within one or two kilometers of the surface across much of the United States; they were deposited hundreds of millions of years ago by evaporating seas; a new study suggests that since President Obama killed the only national nuclear waste burial program — the Yucca mountain site — the United States should look again at the pre-Yucca plan to bury nuclear waste in subterranean salt beds

  • Heavy snows divert Colorado River water shortage, for now

    This winter, heavy snowfall in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming have helped to avert a water crisis along the Colorado River; after an eleven year drought in the region, residents have begun to worry about impending water shortages; the Colorado River supplies nearly thirty million people in seven states with drinking water as well as Mexico; the heavy snows could bring only a brief moment of respite; with demand exceeding supplies and with each year bringing less water, there is potential for a future disaster; if supplies continue to decline, water deliveries will be reduced when Lake Mead’s water level drops below 1,075 feet; as of 1 February, Lake Mead’s water level was at 1,091feet