Infrastructure

  • Federal IT professionals: Cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure looming

    More than half of federal IT professionals surveyed believe the potential is “high” for a cyberattack from a foreign nation against critical IT infrastructure in the next year; moreover, 42 percent of them think the U.S. government’s ability to prevent or handle such an attack is merely fair to poor.

  • World Bank report says 700 million people in 43 countries are under "water stress"

    More than 700 million people in 43 countries are under “water stress,” according to a new World Bank report; water-related projects in developing countries now account for more than a third of the World Bank’s projects

  • Hearing to be held on lack of chemical plant inspections

    There are about 15,000 chemical plants in the United States; 6,000 of them were supposed to be inspected by DHS to make sure their security protocols comply with the current Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, or CFATS, but only 12 have been inspected

  • Protecting structures by tracking down rust

    Damage to concrete bridges caused by rust can have fatal consequences, at worst leading to a total collapse; now, researchers have developed an early-warning system for rust; sensor-transponders integrated in the concrete allow the extent of corrosion to be measured

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  • The lessons of Chile earthquake to California building code

    Since the Chile earthquake, many U.S. engineers have visited Santiago and other affected cities to study the failures and successes of building codes here; Chile is of particular interest to American engineers because it employs similar building codes to those in California and also has widespread use of reinforced concrete; one observation from Chile’s earthquake that could find its way into U.S. building code concerns confining reinforcement; confining reinforcement is meant to keep vertical bars from bucking, but the design proved insufficient in Chile; one solution: requiring confining reinforcement along a greater length of the wall

  • Detecting structural defects with wind and water

    Bridges, aircraft, and wind turbines are in constant movement; natural forces and pedestrians all create vibrations; previously, time-consuming tests were needed to determine how building components would react to vibrations; now, researchers have developed a simpler method

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  • New York denies water permit for Indian Point nuclear plant

    The New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied water-quality certification to Indian Point nuclear power plant; the operator requires the certification to extend by twenty years the license to operate the 2,000-megawatt plant

  • Japan plans nuclear power expansion

    Japan imports 80 percent of its energy; the government has a plan aiming to reduce that figure to just 30 percent by 2030; the key to the plan: building eight new nuclear reactors by 2020 — adding to the country’s 54 operating reactors; Japan is also about to resume operations of the world’s only fast-breeder reactor; the plan faces public opposition, especially in light of Japan’s history of earthquakes

  • Chile's concrete code for buildings called into question

    Since 1985, some 10,000 buildings three stories or higher were built in Chile — constructed in compliance with a strict building code introduced after a power earthquake which rocked the country; only 1 percent will have to be demolished as a consequence of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that struck on 27 February; still, engineers who inspected the damage in many of the bearing-wall concrete frames of 12- to 26-story buildings say the damage calls into question the effectiveness of Chile’s building code, which does not require confinement reinforcing steel for concrete members

  • U.S. cybersecurity spending to rise

    The rate of cyberattacks on U.S. government’s networks and U.S. critical infrastructure, and the growing complexity of IT infrastructure, are driving the surge in federal cybersecurity spending; the U.S. federal government’s total cumulative cybersecurity spending would be $55 billion between 2010 and 2015

  • Experts say smart meters are vulnerable to hacking

    In the United States alone, more than eight million smart meters have been deployed by electric utilities and nearly sixty million should be in place by 2020; security experts are worried that this rush to deployment of smart meters ignores serious security vulnerabilities: the interactivity which makes smart meters so attractive also makes them vulnerable to hackers, because each meter essentially is a computer connected to a vast network

  • New research points way to safer nuclear reactors

    Self-repairing materials within nuclear reactors may one day become a reality as a result of research by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists; when designing nuclear reactors or the materials that go into them, one of the key challenges is finding materials that can withstand an outrageously extreme environment; researchers find that nanocrystalline materials may offer an answer

  • Day nears for restarting Japan's fast-breeder reactor - the world's only such reactor

    Monju, the world’s only fast-breeder reactor, achieved criticality in April 1994; in December 1995 a coolant loop leaked more than 700 kilograms of molten sodium, releasing toxic fumes and damaging the plant; plant managers tried to cover up the accident, but covertly recorded videos were leaked to the press; there followed fourteen years of repairs and redesigns of safety measures and attempts to rebuild public trust by Monju’s operator

  • U.S. nuclear power plants not well protected, vulnerable to attack

    U.S. nuclear power plants are poorly protected; guards are grossly underpaid — in many cases, they make less than the janitors at the facilities they guard; many are hired off the street and given less than a week’s worth of training; says a former CIA officer who visited three nuclear plants to research the topic: “I was told by many individuals during my research that it was common to hear discussions among guards about where they would hide if there were an attack”

  • U.S. Congress anxious about shortages of rare earth materials

    Rare earth materials are key to advanced technology — they are used in devices ranging from wind turbines to cell phones; trouble is, almost all of these materials come from China; Congress is worried that one day they could be subject to tight export controls by that country’s government