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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Americans Throw Away Enough Trash Per Year To Cover The State Of Texas Twice Over

Must-See Infographic: Americans Throw Away Enough Trash Per Year To Cover The State Of Texas Twice Over
By Stephen Lacey on Apr 10, 2012

Did you know that China accounts for one third of the world’s garbage output? Or that only 1 in 5 plastic bottles is recycled? Or that Americans throw away enough trash each year to cover the state of Texas twice over?

I don’t want to give away all the cool trash factoids I just learned in one sitting. So I encourage you to check out this neat infographic on our ever-growing waste problem:


America's 2 New Nukes Are on the Brink of Death

America's 2 New Nukes Are on the Brink of Death
Posted: 04/ 9/2012 6:20 pm

The only two U.S. reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.

If they go under, there will almost certainly be no new reactors built here.

The much mythologized "nuclear renaissance" will be officially buried, and the U.S. can take a definitive leap toward a green-powered future that will actually work and that won't threaten the continent with radioactive contamination.

As this drama unfolds, the collapse of global nuclear power continues, as two reactors proposed for Bulgaria have been cancelled, and just one of Japan's 54 licensed reactors is operating. That one may well close next month, leaving Japan without a single operating commercial nuke.

Georgia's double-reactor Vogtle project ...


White-Nose Bat Deaths: Fungus Behind Mysterious Deaths In U.S. And Canada Came From Europe

White-Nose Bat Deaths: Fungus Behind Mysterious Deaths In U.S. And Canada Came From Europe
Posted: 04/ 9/2012

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The mysterious deaths of millions of bats in Canada and the United States over the past several years were caused by a fungus that hitchhiked from Europe, scientists reported Monday.

Experts had suspected that an invasive species was to blame for the die-off from "white nose syndrome." Now there's direct evidence the culprit was not native to North America.

The fungal illness has not caused widespread deaths among European bats unlike in the U.S. and Canada. In North America more than 5.7 million bats have died since 2006 when white nose syndrome was first detected in a cave in upstate New York. The disease does not pose a threat to humans, but people can carry fungal spores.

It's unclear exactly how the fungus crossed the Atlantic, but one possibility is that it was accidentally introduced by tourists. Spores are known to stick to people's clothes, boots and caving gear.

White nose syndrome has killed bats in four Canadian provinces and 19 U.S. states...


Ex-Japanese prime minister Murayama expresses regret over supporting nuclear power

Ex-prime minister Murayama expresses regret over supporting nuclear power

OITA — Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Sunday it is regrettable that he changed the then Japan Socialist Party's policy to an acceptance of nuclear power stations while he was in office.

"It was imprudent and it was a failure. I want to apologize," Murayama told an antinuclear meeting in the city of Oita. "I'm filled with a strong feeling that I should not accept nuclear power stations so I can make up for my mistake."

Murayama expressed opposition to the government's efforts toward resuming idled reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, saying the government has not yet provided a satisfactory explanation to the public regarding why the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant occurred...


The 30-year itch America’s nuclear industry struggles to get off the floor

The 30-year itch
America’s nuclear industry struggles to get off the floor

IN HIS state-of-the-union message last month, Barack Obama said that America needs “an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.” Mr Obama boasted about a wind-turbine factory in Michigan, America’s abundant supplies of natural gas and the millions of acres opened for oil exploration. He urged Congress to pass tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy and to end oil-company subsidies.

But Mr Obama made no mention of nuclear energy, even though America’s 104 nuclear reactors provide around one-fifth of its electricity, and even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was poised to approve, for the first time since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the construction of a new nuclear reactor on American soil. It duly did so on February 9th, giving its first-ever combined construction and operation licences to the Atlanta-based Southern Company to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle, in eastern Georgia, where they will join two existing reactors that have been in operation for 25 and 23 years. Southern Company got $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees for the Vogtle expansion, and it expects the new reactors to begin operation in 2016 and 2017. This will be the among the largest construction projects in Georgia’s history, representing capital investment of $14 billion and bringing the state, by the firm’s estimate, 3,500 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs.

Some claim that the Georgia decision heralds a nuclear renaissance in America. Another four reactors—two in South Carolina and two in Florida—are up for NRC approval this year, with the South Carolina decision just weeks away. The coal industry may be fighting new federal emissions standards, air-pollution regulations and even the idea of carbon pricing, but those things are all a boon for carbon-free nuclear power. Steven Chu, America’s energy secretary, has called nuclear power an essential part of America’s energy portfolio, and has been vocal about the administration’s commitment to “restarting the American nuclear industry”. In 2009 Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s senior senator, called for 100 new reactors to be built by 2030. The following year Mr Obama proposed tripling the nuclear loan-guarantee programme to $54 billion. Mr Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal 2013 (which begins this October) includes money to fund research into advanced small “modular” reactors.

Still, nuclear power faces strong headwinds. A poll taken last year showed that 64% of Americans opposed building new nuclear reactors. The NRC’s last new reactor approval predates Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, all of which dented public support (and not just in America either: nuclear power supplies three-fourths of France’s electricity, yet in one poll 57% of French respondents favoured abandoning it). America’s anti-nuclear movement has been as quiet as its nuclear industry, but as one comes to life so will the other.

Already a consortium...


Safety rules loosened for aging nuclear reactors

Safety rules loosened for aging nuclear reactors
'We can't compromise on safety. I think the vulnerability is on these older plants,' says retired safety designer

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the United States.

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.

Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes...


'War on drugs' has failed, say Latin American leaders

'War on drugs' has failed, say Latin American leaders
Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics

A historic meeting of Latin America's leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.

The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.

Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country's military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: "The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated."

Pérez Molina concedes that moving beyond prohibition is problematic. "To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcoholic drinks and tobacco consumption and production, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?"

He insists, however, that prohibition has failed and an alternative system must be found. "Our....


Haiti Shedding Light on Power of Solar to Transform Lives, the Economy

Haiti Shedding Light on Power of Solar to Transform Lives, the Economy
For the solar industry in the United States, Haiti is our showcase.


On my first night in Haiti more than a year ago, I walked out into the clear night to the parked SUV that would whisk me safely back to my quaint hotel nestled in the hills overlooking Port au Prince. As the driver opened the door for me, I noticed a small leg protruding from under the vehicle. The leg belonged to a young child, fast asleep, sheltered under the protection of the front bumper. My host roused the homeless boy, who wearily stood up, naked from the waist down, and then vanished into the unlit city.

Observing my obvious distress, my host simply said “wait until you see Boucan Carré”.

The Boucan Carré region in Haiti’s Central Plateau can’t be called a forgotten land; it is a stretch of rocky earth where few live and most people never knew existed in the first place. Even in the context of Haiti, a poor country, Boucan Carré is an impoverished place.

But Boucan Carré is blessed with two things: bountiful sunlight and an industrious people --ready, willing and able to improve their living conditions if provided the tools to do so. That is why President Bill Clinton, Dr. Paul Farmer and a host of aid experts and energy executives traveled to Boucan Carré a few weeks ago to see what could be achieved when you equip a naturally energetic people with even a modest dose of solar power.

President Clinton’s ...


Taking Solar and Wind Out to the Ballgame

Taking Solar and Wind Out to the Ballgame
Major League Baseball is increasingly turning to distributed generation.


With new solar and wind installations at two of its ballparks, Major League Baseball opens the 2012 season showing America the national pastime is still at the vanguard of social and technological change.

Baseball was the first sport to play under lights, break the color line, pioneer live television broadcasts, end restrictive player-management relations, and lead the way into Latin America and Asia. Now it is swinging for the fences by driving the shift toward distributed renewables.

In the last few years...


When Redundant Safety Systems Fail: The Peril of Blind Faith

When Redundant Safety Systems Fail: The Peril of Blind Faith
By Roger Witherspoon

Last June, as the world watched the metastasizing radiological disaster spreading from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex in Japan, industry leaders gathered at an International Atomic Energy Agency conference in Vienna to discuss the impact on future nuclear development. John Ritch, head of the industry’s World Nuclear Association, said it was important to emphasize that there have been 14,500 “rector years” of safe nuclear operation.

That figure has been widely circulated since, as nuclear proponents assured local media of the safety record of the technologically complex industry. But an examination of that figure may be less sanguine.

It is based on the cumulative years of operation of 582 nuclear reactors worldwide over the course of the history of commercial nuclear power: no individual reactor operated for 14,500 years. But simple division reveals the average reactor would have just under 26 years’ operating experience. Out of the total of 582 reactors 137 have shut down permanently for a variety of reasons. And all of the reactors operated safely – until the day they didn’t.

That 26 years of experience with each reactor operating today could be a reassuring figure – except that there have been 12 nuclear accidents resulting in full or partial meltdowns. History and simple division, therefor, reveal that the nuclear industry suffers its worst accidents at some plant – despite their experience, safety culture, and redundant safeguards – approximately every two years.

Since 1985 ...

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