Infrastructure

  • Metal mist will not choke off controlled nuclear fusion

    Fusion reactors — experimental reactors called tokamaks — are doughnut-shaped devices that contain ionized gas, or plasma, at temperatures of more than 100 million degrees; it was feared that fine metallic dust generated inside the containment vessel would choke off the controlled nuclear fusion; scientists now find this is not the case

  • Web site lists rail-carried hazardous chemicals in real time

    Railroad operator CSX now provides first responders and the Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC) access to secure Web-based information which allows CHEMTREC to find a train number, tank car number, and identify what is being transported in those cars; BNSF also provides CHEMTREC with manifest information, but only after a derailment; BNSF does, however, provide municipalities a list of chemicals it routinely transports through cities

  • Software turns laptops, PCs into earthquake early-warning system

    Harnessing the power of accelerometers — tiny devices that detect movement, allowing, for example, iPhones to flip from vertical to horizontal and Wii devices to function as tennis rackets — and embedding them in laptops and PCs would create a local, regional, or even global network of “quake catchers” who would use their computers to map tremors

  • Washington State, federal officials in dam-related disaster resilience exercises

    Officials from the Tri-Cities area of Washington State, neighboring areas, and federal agencies participate in a exercise aiming to develop a strategy to improve disaster resilience and preparedness in the event of severe flooding along the Columbia River, flooding which leads to overtopping and subsequent breaching of levees in the Tri-Cities area

  • Delay in start date for U.K. cyberdefense center

    The U.K. government’s Cyber Security Operations Center, charged with protecting Britain’s critical IT infrastructure, was supposed to become operational yesterday; the government said it would become operational by the end of the month

  • AWWA: Chemical security bill needs local decision power

    The American Water Works Association advises Congress that any new chemical security legislation should reflect the need for local water experts to make key treatment decisions and protect sensitive information from non-essential personnel

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  • GAO: U.S. government not properly coordinating cybersecurity efforts

    The U.S. Government Accountability Office, in addressing the Obama administration’s Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative (CNCI), a secretive initiative inherited from the Bush administration, warned that “Federal agencies have overlapping and uncoordinated responsibilities for cybersecurity, and it is unclear where the full responsibility for coordination lies”

  • The city of Concepción moved 10 feet to the west; rebuilding infrastructure will cost $1.2 billion

    Chile’s earthquake was the fifth most powerful quake ever measured; the powerful temblor shifts one city to the west — and rearranges others parts of South America as well; cost of rebuilding Chile’s infrastructure estimated at $1.2 billion

  • Growing demand for chemical plants to switch to IST

    A 2008 analysis estimated that seven of Clorox’s bleach plants placed a total of nearly ten million people in the United States at risk from chlorine gas release; Clorox announced last year that it was phasing out processing chlorine gas into sodium hypochlorite in its plants; trouble is, Clorox consumes only about 1 percent of the chlorine gas used each year in the United States, thus, the overall impact of Clorox’s positive move on the country’s risk is minimal

  • New survey shows many water, wastewater plants improve chemical security

    New study says 554 drinking water and wastewater plants in 47 states have replaced extremely hazardous substances with safer and more secure chemicals or processes; at least 2,600 additional water and wastewater facilities still use large amounts of chlorine gas

  • Top concern at RSA 2010: security of cloud computing

    Cloud computing offers efficiency and cost reduction, but it also offer new opportunities to hackers and cybercriminals; Melissa Hathaway, former senior director for cyberspace for the National Security Council, said the migration toward the cloud is gaining momentum without having satisfactorily addressed several pressing concerns; former National Security Agency technical director Brian Snow said he does not trust the cloud

  • Engineering earthquake-resistant buildings

    Chile’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake was much more powerful that Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude tremor; yet, Haiti’s quake claimed an estimated 300,000 dead, while Chile’s quake claimed around 800; the reason: Chile enforced building codes for earthquake-resistant structures after the 1960 9.0-magnitude earthquake; the corrupt, indifferent, and ineffective governments of Haiti never bothered to develop a meaningful building code, let alone enforce one

  • FBI: Cyber-terrorism a real and growing threat to U.S.

    FBI director Robert Mueller: “The risks are right at our doorsteps and in some cases they are in the house”; Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism czar: “Every major company in the U.S. and Europe has been penetrated — it’s industrial warfare”

  • A bridge ready for the Big One

    On 17 October 1989, a 7.1 earthquake nearly caused the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse; scientists say that just one or two seconds more of shaking and the whole bridge would have come down; the seismic innovations being incorporated into the construction of the new Bay Bridge will make the bridge secure enough to survive a massive level earthquake — the largest we would see in 1,500 years

  • U.S. reluctant to adopt new nuclear reactor technology

    Generation IV — or “pebble bed” — reactor is powered by fuel in the form of spheres rather than rods; the reactor runs far hotter than existing reactors, and produce 30 percent more electricity from a given amount of fuel; the drawback: weapons proliferation; to burn spent fuel in fast reactors, it has to be reprocessed to extract plutonium, which can also be used in weapons