• U.S. grid-security measures may hurt Canadian companies

    The growing concern in the United States over the security of the national grid has lead to security measures — and proposed legislation — aiming to make the security of the grid more robust; trouble is, much of the U.S. electricity comes from Canada, and some of the contemplated security measures my disrupt transmission of power from across the border

  • Better method to detect cracks in nuclear plants

    At the moment, cracks in nuclear plant components are detected by using ultrasonic scanners that carry a number of different probes; new device will use a single phased-array probe that will be safer, cheaper, and more accurate than existing systems

  • Dutch build sand dunes to fight rising seas

    More than eighteen million cubic meters of sand are dredged from the bottom of the ocean and brought back to land to form new dunes; the new dunes — each 30 to 60 meters wide, and rising up to 10 meters above sea level — are built along a 20-kilometer stretch of the shore

  • Nuclear leaks at Three Mile Island investigated

    There was another radioactive leak at Three Mile Island, the scene of the U.S. worst nuclear power accident; NRC said on Sunday there was no threat to public health or safety; investigators this weekend were trying to determine the cause of radiological contamination inside the nuclear facility’s containment building

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  • Predicting the effect of a nuclear weapon dropped on an urban area

    Current models of nuclear effects use wind direction and wind speed to draw a predicted cone-shape area of fall-out; new research results show that these models are too simple in some ways — for instance, they do not include the complex dynamics of wind movements around buildings, which can concentrate fall-out preferentially in certain areas

  • Judge: Corps' mismanagement doomed homes in New Orleans

    The judge’s 156-page decision could result in the federal government paying $700,000 in damages to three people and a business in those areas — but it also sets the stage for judgments worth billions of dollars against the government for damages suffered by as many as 100,000 other residents, businesses, and local governments in those areas who filed claims with the corps after Katrina

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  • What tropical countries can teach the U.K. about flood management

    Climate change has caused a change in the patterns of rainfall in the United Kingdom: rather than a procession of predictable showers, a new type of rain emerged — localized storms, dropping a lot of water in one place over a short period of time; villages and towns were overwhelmed; tropical countries have had a long experience with the type of rainfall

  • Doubts raised on nuclear industry viability

    There are two problems facing the nuclear power industry: civilian and military stockpiles and re-enriched or reprocessed uranium sources contribute 25,000 of the 65,000 tons of uranium used globally each year; the rest is mined directly, but scientists say that nobody knows where the mining industry can find enough uranium to make up the shortfall; also, the cost per kilowatt of capacity generated by nuclear power is $4,000; generating identical capacity from coal costs $3,000, and the cost for natural gas generation is $800; this makes the nuclear option a big financial gamble

  • Buildings made of prefabricated straw prove to be fire-resistant

    Researchers at Bath University test panels made from prefabricated straw-bale and hemp by exposing them to temperatures over 1,000°C; to reach the required building standard, the panels had to withstand the heat for more than thirty minutes, but more than two hours later — four times as long as required — the panels had still not failed

  • Texas running out of water

    Texas’s population of about 24.3 million is expected to hit about 45.5 million by 2060, and the water supply can not come close to keeping pace; if the state were to experience major drought conditions with that many more people, officials estimate almost every Texan would be without sufficient water and there would be more than $90 billion in economic losses

  • DHS unveils critical infrastructure Web site

    Designed to provide stakeholders and the public with easily accessible information about their role in safeguarding critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR); the new CIKR Resource Center will offer information on Web-based seminars on the tools, trends, issues, and best practices for infrastructure protection and resilience; resources concerning potential vulnerabilities for chemical facilities; and guidance for all response partners on how best to prepare for and provide a unified response to disasters and emergencies

  • Oregon's bridges to be readied for the Big One

    There are 2,671 bridges in Oregon’s highway system; researchers develop a computer model which, for the first time, gives state authorities bridge-by-bridge estimates of damage, repair cost, and traffic delay costs associated with a shattering western Oregon quake; the new tool would allow engineers to prioritize which of the state’s bridges should get seismic upgrades

  • Worries about safety of California bridges with eyebar design

    Every so often the Bay Bridge closes because of widening eyebar crack; when the bridge opened seventy years ago, the design was considered safe, but structural engineers now say the eyebar design is an inherently unsafe; trouble is, dozens and dozens of California aging bridges use the flawed design

  • A landmark investment to finance Canada-U.S. grid connection

    The biggest Canada-U.S. power grid project — a privately funded 1,200- to 1400-megawatt transmission line between Quebec and southern New Hampshire — will lower the cost of power throughout New England; the project could also meet one third of the New England’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative commitments with the hydroelectric power Hydro-Québec could pump through the line

  • Bay Area cities lag in making housing quake-safe

    Many public buildings in Bay Area cities have been retrofitted to make them more earthquake-resistant; most of the two types of private homes which are especially vulnerable to damage by tremors — wood-frame, “soft-story” buildings and concrete-frame structures that lack sufficient steel reinforcement — have not yet been retrofitted