Wednesday, December 31, 2008
When I read this article, it brought to mind the mud volcano in Indonesia. It just seems things are a bit close to the wire. What standards would they use for safety? Should some standards organization set an exclusion zone? Would the fear of the populace allow a terrorist to find comfort? And terrorist he would be, since the only way to 'fight' this would be to blow up a pipe near a town, and kill people.
They should definitely work with the people to allay fear. Monitoring stations, emergency drills, etc.
Monday, December 29, 2008
This was a very tiny earthquake, although it was felt. All nuclear plants are supposed to have some seismic detection capability, but nobody says it has to work! In fact, there have been much larger earthquakes beside nuclear plants, and they weren't detected either! You can safely say that 90% of these accelerometer systems don't work.
They are run by people who have no clue what they are for, or what they do, or how important they are. Probably, Diablo Canyon has the only working system in North America.
I was involved in doing this for the old company. I was so frustrated with the internal stupidity, that I finally put in 2 external seismometers now part of the Polaris Network. So, when there is an earthquake, we will have a ground motion recording.
They are from Uganda, and the heads of various big programs there. So the son is going to Uganda in the spring to do some humanitarian work. But I got talking to them, and it was quite interesting.
Uganda has gotten over it's horrible years, and is doing quite well. The mother is big in the education area, and she even goes up to the North, where they used to have a nasty war with the child kidnappers. Now, they've discovered oil, and it's quite stable.
They don't have any technical people in Uganda! They hired a Chinese geophysical firm (my expertise!), and were totally hosed by them. These guys said there was no oil in the North, the next year the place was flooded by Chinese oil companies staking claims, and suddenly there was oil. Now, the government is suing everybody.
They have bypassed phone lines, and have bypassed computer desktops. They don't have a clue about computers, and don't have the wired infrastructure. The bigwigs all have computers in their offices, and don't take off the dust covers. Bill Clinton breezed in and outfitted a classroom with desktops and breezed out. It was a disaster! So they are complete computer technophobes.
Each summer, these parents run a compound where volunteers spread out during the week, and come back for a party on Sunday. He is in charge of medical programs. Uganda has done a pretty good job in controlling AIDS and Malaria. Much better than South Africa. As well, there is nowhere near the violence of South Africa.
So, I am a Linux expert, and we just had a Christmas party with a friend who is a big OLPC (XO) Linux enthusiast. He's in the Ultimate Canadian Private School, and does the science program. He always has a battle with the IT department who are MS drones. Anyway, he convinced their Outreach program to buy a classroom of XO's, which buys another set for the villages. They have made a link with a Peruvian village. As well as doing outreach, he uses the XO's to connect to dataloggers for Physics! Screw IT!
So, it is now my great idea to combine everything! I intend to get middle son interested in computers (wow!), by saying they are just a fancy iPod. We intend for him to go with some XO's and create some interest. In the meantime, my daughter will work on our local Weston IB to get interested and duplicate the effort in UCC (the private school). There is a rich donor we might tap. We have the connections to get Uganda to use its oil money (from the lawsuit!), and go into a full pilot. When that happens, I might go over and help them out.
My older son might postpone his hot job in bio-tech to get involved. He doesn't know anything about computers either! They always said to me: "Unlike you Dad, we were born with electricity!".
So, the kids are going to do the write-ups, and we are going to try and tap some donors, for a few XO's for the son to take there. We have family who might be interested, since this is the most exciting thing I ever came across! It is an absolutely sure thing, full of rational people, and rational ideas. No Canadian institutional stupidity! If you know any billionaires, let me know! I don't think Bill Gates would support this!
Happy New Year everybody!
Ah, Algonquin Park. At night, if you listen, you can hear the wolves howl. But now, you will hear the infrasonic throb of a zillion windmills! The battle is hilarious, a bit like nuclear waste. You've got the "No Change, No Way" people, and the government who desperately wants to be politically correct in the way they wipe their nose.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
And it looms, and it looms, and it looms. As I've said before, all this backroom secrecy was a device to get the Feds to pay for everything. Not going to work, buddies! The French will pay for everything, but will Ontario accept snotty Frenchmen lording over them? I don't think so.
Either way, it will not be an appetizing meal, since they have set up such 'great expectations'. Oh well, time to eat your own dog food, big guys. And don't postpone it any more, please!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
California had it's big earthquake drill, where all the damage was laid out in fantastic detail. One thing that came out is the fire fighting. I think it's totally hopeless in the worst case, since the firehouses are damaged, the roads are covered with debris, and the water pipes are all cracked.
If they wanted to do conventional fire fighting, they would need trucks that resembled tanks, with big rubber tracks, and huge storage tanks for foam. Even then, I doubt they would have enough capacity. I just have this vision of 'Fire Tanks', with tracks and the turret gun shooting foam!
So what are they going to do? Just give up when there's an earthquake? Go out on foot? Let all the fires burn out? I'm quite interested in the official bureaucratic response.
Friday, December 26, 2008
The e-ink page is very clear, with high contrast, but is refreshes slowly. That's why it would never be a web browser, and it's ok that there's no wireless. You load up books via usb.
You get classic books from the Gutenberg project, and it's best to have them in rtf format, which preserves bolding and italics. You don't want pdf, because the text doesn't reformat for the zoom level. If you are really good in Linux, you can get other books -- say no more!
You can listen to classical music (or whatever), while you read. Very neat. The battery supposedly lasts a long time if you are just using the e-ink. They have an led backlight, but that seems weird, and uses a lot of battery power.
For a Linux machine, it's funny that the only computer software they provide is for windows, but that's to deal with all that DRM, if you want to buy a modern book. For Linux, it just appears as a standard usb flash drive.
ps. I forgot to mention the glare issue. It has a translucent screen which I think has some glare-removing properties. It takes a while of tilting to find a good angle, especially with lights behind you. If you have a bright wall behind, and lights in front, it's good.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This is probably worse than a mud volcano! Coal ash is the nastiest stuff ever! Makes rad waste look healthy (because you can't eat it!). Never fear, Ontario has been hiding coal ash in your concrete for years! Dilution is the Solution!
Of course, we have to burn a lot more coal to manufacture wind mills, to look pretty in the calm. I always wonder if they actually save more coal ash than they cause in the first place! I'm sure you can find politically correct places that don't have a puff of wind!
Well, you all know my hopeless hope for a rational approach to nuclear, but this big disaster shows what stupidity will get you.
My career has spanned the era where earthquake engineering has separated from earthquake science. Now it is so far apart, I fear there will be trouble in the future, especially with the new plants. For example, in Canada, we have no mechanism to 'certify' a given site, for a given nuclear plant design. I was hoping to work out something before I got kicked out of the process.
However, there is one area where engineering has tracked science, and this is in the ancient art of 'experience data'. In the 80's, this was pushed by EQE International. Unfortunately, it was totally rejected by the mainstream seismic engineers, since it would put them all out of job. EQE was swallowed by a Giant Borg Engineering Conglomerate, and has never been heard of since.
We start with the famous 1985 Mexico earthquake. This was an M8.1 subduction earthquake way out on the sunny coast. As far as earthquakes go, it was only about a 30% g ground motion, with probably 50 cm/s on firmer ground. As such, it never damaged well-built structures on firm ground.
Digression: One reason that experience data may be relegated to the dustbin of history, is their bloody-minded adherence to 'peak acceleration'. The sinusoid engineers can stick to this with their shake tables, since they have lost contact with reality long ago, but field studies need something correlated with physics, and the cause of damage. The best parameter is PGV, and if I were KingoftheWorld, then I would convert all the old experience data to this value.
Ok, when EQE studied this earthquake, they went beyond the pretty pictures of destroyed buildings and looked at what was undamaged. This became a keystone of the technique. At the time, I was mostly interested in the bizarre soil resonances that caused the damage, but EQE found that most of those buildings were junk anyway. Although there was a lot of amplification, the better buildings still survived.
--to be continued, with enough pennies in the jar.
Wow, everybody's agog with the CBC coming in to shoot a happy-happy documentary about the ten thousand places where Bruce wants to put a nuclear plant. I really hope that some rational opposition is interviewed, not some rabid windmill lover. That's always the problem here, you've only got extremists on both sides, and the CBC will show them for entertainment value.
Wouldn't it be nice if they put in a plug for science, like geology? Naah, won't happen.
I have more respect for my No-Nukes-Never buddies when they chill out on hopeless reactor sites. They don't think AECL can offer reactors for free, or else Ontario would have got its collective thumb out by now. It's the same when I got my buddies to relax about Nanticoke, about which you don't hear much any more.
My rational dream it to put 4 Westinghouse AP1000's at Wesleyville, paid for by the same billions they are throwing at cars. As well, put all the nuclear waste there, in the tight rock. Naturally, the no-nukies would be up in arms about windmills, blah, blah, and I would laugh at them!
But, no, Virginia, this will never come to pass. For now, everyone can have a Merry Christmas, since there will be absolutely nothing going on in the nuke biz for a long time.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I must admit these things couldn't happen in Canada, where they methodically test these things. In fact, things work best when they are mindlessly methodical. It's when things become a bit complicated, that 'nose to the grindstone' doesn't work. I remember that I became the most hated in the old company when I noticed a backup safety battery was totally rigged up in the wrong way for seismic. The plates would shatter in the tiniest earthquake! Naturally, they killed me, since this would require the closing of an entire plant. I suppose it got fixed eventually.
Nothing like having a monopoly at home to help take over the world. These guys could surly give Ontario some free reactors, in exchange for Ontario, which really isn't worth much these days!
I've always complained how nasty our nuclear bosses are around here, but that's nothing compared to the French, who drink nasty-juice from birth! But on second thought, they should fit right in!
No matter what, look to seeing no new geology studies in these parts for some time. That leaves the field totally open to me!
And here I thought these guys couldn't rub two pennies together in this drecession. New Brunswick is getting two reactors free for Christmas! What a deal!
The geology around that area is very interesting, being a descending passive margin. There have been some huge earthquakes in that area. Naturally, NB Power has no interest in either seismic monitoring or basic geology. I have no idea what sort of foundation they are on, since they never talked to us in 30 years!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
So, the Finns decide to build a nuclear plant, based on a proven design. Then they decide to get all political and suddenly change the design to take a rain of jumbo jets! Then they decide that union engineers and political bosses have to approve every drawing. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!
Nobody does anything until they stare Death in the face. We have a lesson here, that when buildings fall down, they retrofit. There are probably lots of places in California where they haven't had an earthquake in 50-100 years, and are laughing in the face of the earthquake gods. Even when it happens to the next town over, they probably say: "Ha, what a bunch of losers!!" Anyway, enough said.
Every recession, the train thing gets trotted out. The main problem is Ontario incompetence, and the union thing. I never blame the unions per say, but all 'brains' flee the scene where there is a union! That's why the Big 3 have troubles, and we can't run nuclear plants, and as the comments say, we can't run trains on time.
**Digression - My friends in a big union car plant had a very nice cafeteria where they ate all the time. Union said that it had to be run by the auto union. After that, it was so bad they couldn't eat there anymore!
Converting cars to hybrids requires a 'smart grid', and some nuclear plants. We should just try and see if we can do this.
You are all being wonderful and clicking, but I can't find a thing to write about! Meanwhile, I got the old snowblower running like mad to clear all this snow! Toronto, the city, was never laid out for snow. There's no room for it! The sidewalks go right up to the street, so there's this constant fight between the street snowplows, and the sidewalk machines. One dumps all the snow on the sidewalk, the other dumps it back on the street!
Then there are these hopeless narrow downtown streets! I used to live on one. The plows would come and bury all the cars parked there. Then you would dig out your car, leaving a perfect parking spot, and as soon as you left, another person would take it! All the snow would cut down the parking by a third.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I think this is a little weird, but I report on it anyway. Using advanced shape memory metal as re-bars may help the bridge come back to the original shape. However, it looks like the concrete is busted to ratshit, so I don't know if it is worthwhile.
That's some good news as the really old schools are being replaced. I don't really have a lot of sentiment for the old death traps. Other than that, I can't find anything to write about. Merry Christmas! (And it's snowing like crap, here in Toronto!)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
This just hot off the wire! It's nice and warm down in Chile right now, and this should exercise their tsunami alerts. I expect that there will be no damage, since this is sooooo tiny for this area. They get really big earthquakes down there! Still, I am eagerly scanning the news!
This has nothing to do with geology, but is an intellectual problem, equivalent to nuclear plants. All this talk about n-plants being too expensive, and we have the cost of several of them going to the auto industry. What are they going to do with it? There is no risk of 'cost-overrun', the fear of which has seized up all action on the nuclear front, but rather there is the risk that all this money is going into a big black hole.
The best thing to do is what we did with an unwanted nuclear plant, which is to 'mothball' the thing for a year or two, until it becomes clear what to do with it. But how can we mothball the auto industry?
Still, it's a better option than letting things run, destroying wealth like old Soviet factories, producing things that nobody wants. Are we going to end up melting down all these brand new giant pickup trucks? That's why I'm for the orderly bankruptcy, with mothballing, as the best way to preserve wealth. Somebody will eventually figure out what to do with all those factories!
You might now say that we don't need any new nuclear plants if we give up on all industry in Ontario, but I don't think that will happen. Now is the best time to build nuclear plants, absorbing the people from the car industry, and using cheap oil. And these guys love to buy ugly pickup trucks! Ontario should just build the plant using the old method of government-backed bonds, and absorbing the cost overruns. Or estimate the dang cost right the first time!
The preceding has been a dream, assuming rationality in government. The reality is that they will waste money on the auto industry, and waste money doing all the wrong things for nuclear plants.
This is so cute! Seems that even in California, people are ditching the single-car commute, and using car pools or transit. This impacts all the horrible bridges, who rely on carbon-spewing in the form of tolls. Now they are jacking up the tolls to pay for seismic upgrades, which will cause people to drive less. I don't think they will win.
Retrofitting a bridge is expensive work. As you can see in the picture, if you determine that the columns are weak, what are you going to do? What if the deck has a chance to slip off the expansion joints, like Oakland? I always thought the best thing they could do was to put in a red light system to prevent the decks from being jammed with cars. They could go further by putting in signals once an earthquake is detected.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I can't see how such an evaluation can't be done with a quick walk-down. This building, most likely, has no hope in an earthquake. The delays are probably in splitting hairs, since there is no money to build a new school. But as far as I know, there are no hard standards that might say "Run Away!", to such a building. I think if you had the absolutely worst building in the world up, which had the same hazard and risk as the Chalk River Reactor, then they would quibble forever.
These buildings only become condemned when there is an earthquake, and they are a pile of rubble.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This site has an exploit that will take over your computer! I will find out who you loved in high school, and whether you put on your pants with the right leg first!
Actually, not. But that would be cool! Still, we bloggers have an obligation to the people who click our ads, some of which look pretty sleazy. I can't imagine that anyone who would read this blog would be dumb enough to still use IE, but I do get a lot of utility visitors (who don't like me), and they can keep using IE, for all I care.
I always found that as soon as I put Firefox on the kid's XP machines, the number of bad things dropped down to zero. We bloggers are united in pointing this out.
This is interesting. They have introduced a new map a the AGU that combines soil types with the general seismic hazard. People have been working on microzonation for years, but this is the first time I have seen a major product. Note how the swamps (bay mud) are bright pink.
If we did this for Hamilton, it would be surprising.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Japan is demolishing old nuclear plants because it is too expensive to retrofit to modern standards. Imagine that! The concept of retrofitting to modern standards! We retrofitted old Pickering A because it wasn't designed for earthquakes, but Pickering B is only a smack better. Certainly, not up to modern standards! Yet, in the talk about refitting it, there is no mention about seismic issues.
Walking through Pick B reveals a host of horrible things, from pervasive block walls, to excessive restraints. There are no plans for walkdowns or anything. Of course, then there's Darlington, but I have no justification (no ad money!) to bitch about that! And you can tell how I stopped complaining about the NRU....
An interesting article on the real hard-core nuclear waste, left over from bomb making. The wonderful thing about this stuff is that it is so detectable. Very little chance of it getting into your drinking water! Can't say that about Listeria!
"That fantastic old machine is really near the end of its incredibly good and loyal service life,"
Yes, it has sprung a leak! Can you imagine running a dangerous reactor with 7000 litres a day gushing out. Yet, such is the need for isotopes, that they keep the bailing buckets going full blast. An on-going leak makes the seismic risk that much higher, since who knows whether the bailing buckets are on seismic backup power. Besides, falling apart things always fall more apart in an earthquake.
There it is, the ideal gift for old guys! The new PRS-700, which I thought wasn't in the country yet, until I found it at NCIX. I can load up on all the classics without wasting paper! I used to read a ton of them at work, where I would print them up on a nice narrow double column, that looked exactly like a report!! But I felt guilty about the paper. And I'm certainly not going to do that at home!
Yeah, off to 'Moby Dick'!
Today is the last day anyone can offer input or suggestions on the design of the process to select a storage facility site for high level nuclear waste.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is responsible for long term management of Canada's used nuclear fuel.
A draft plan on how to site he deep geological repository will be prepared next yer and will be subject to public comment.
Ontario Power Generation is proposing to store low to intermediate level waste in a DGR beneath the Bruce nuclear site in Tiverton.
OPG maintains high level waste will NOT be stored there.
Site selection for a high level waste DGR will focus on Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
Anyone wishing to comment on plans or make suggestions should contact the NWMO.OMG! Why am I laughing hysterically? Go on everybody, make your suggestions to these guys! Anyway, I said that with no ad income, I'm totally staying out of this....
ps. Note the Freudian Slip at the beginning: 'high level nuclear waste'.
Here we go with a concept that is chock full of geology! And some physics, as well! As usual, I see some major problems with this in Ontario, and I remember studying it 30 years ago. If it ever gets serious, I'll do a big writeup.
That's right, the icon of rationality has left the world of 'Conservation Showbiz', because some of that electricity comes from nuclear, and some future supply will also be nuclear.
As with all my buddies from the 'No Nukes Never' camp, I understand their position, but I live in my imaginary world. Just because all the Nuclear Peacetime Generals are doing everything wrong, I continue to believe that nuclear power can be done right, and is essential for Ontario. You can talk forever about conservation and wind power on dreary days, but all our existing nuclear plants are crapping out, and we need something else.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Personally, I think this is the world's most dangerous reactor, with the delicious irony of being the only supplier of live-saving isotopes. We must take comfort that when the big earthquake hits, it will only contaminate a few square miles, since it really doesn't contain that much rad-juice.
Here's a innocent request to power a giant light festival by solar. I have a solar light in my backyard, and this time of year it turns on at night with a tiny little flicker. We also have solar-powered seismometers way up north, and they completely shut down this time of year, and we hope they unfreeze in February.
I don't see much wind either, as we settle down to our totally gloomy, drizzly, winter. Yeah for nuclear at this time of year!
This repository, the 'Living Dead' of all repositories, will grow on paper, while it's still dead. The original 'space' has all been allocated, and new phantom nuclear plants need more space.
If they don't increase the space, then they will have to come up with a new imaginary repository in North Dakota, which may or may not be an imaginary state.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
We all know about the big earthquake. It ruptured from Sumatra, practically up to Thailand! On the other hand a mere 8.7 hardly ruptured much at all, and did not cause a major tsunami. Such is the power of a log scale!
In many parts of the world, it is observed that earthquakes can march along a major fault. This happens in Turkey along the North Anatolian Fault, for example. Now, a study of beached corals shows that this also happens for this fault system. As well, it is confirmed by historical observation of the last sequence.
Thus, we have the whole Sunda Trench open to us for a major earthquake.
This, of course, leads us to attempt to mechanically model the whole system. If the upper section moved, it must lead to increased stress on the lower section. If you use standard finite elements, then it shows something like this.
Note the very rapid relative motion of the converging plates! This leads to a full cycle every 200 years or so. Upon reading all of these articles, I became more interested in the mechanics of the subduction zone. It turns out to be vastly complicated, with many interesting variations.
We all have a general idea that the oceanic plates are 'conveyor belts' forming at ridges, and sinking at subduction zones.
What is the driving mechanism for this machine? Most people now believe that it is 'slab pull' which comes when the tired old slab becomes denser after significant cooling, and sinks back into the asthenosphere. This pulls the plate. But all these physics people aren't engineers which know You Can't Pull a Piece of Crap (the extension of You Can't Push on a Rope). In other words, for a pull, you need tensile strength, and large scale rock doesn't have this!
But, I'm not fighting these artsies, and we'll go with slab pull for now. At the subduction boundary, the descending plate can do all sorts of wonderful things. The plate is all wet and juicy from the ocean sediments. In order to generate volcanoes, it has to descend to 100 km, where the water, and other gases get cooked off. In some zones, the plate is too bouyant, doesn't get to 100 km, and does not produce volcanoes. Some zones, the plate is tired, and descends rapidly. They can plunge really deep, and are most likely the source of hotspots.
Still, the mechanism for the very large earthquakes is the same for all varieties. The descending plate 'sticks' for a while, and then releases. One side goes down, the other goes up. As far as buildings go, these are fairly slow earthquakes, and do not do much damage, but if they are long enough, they can generate huge tsunamis.
Look at the maps of the rupture areas, and visualize a very thin film of water, much like water in a cookie sheet. Only the rupture zones that are much longer than their width can generate a 'sloshing disturbance', which is a tsunami. The shorter sections can not propagate a slosh, but can produce a large local tsunami, if there are underwater landslides.
In summary, we really have to go with the history of any given subduction zone. In this case, I believe we will really see some action in the next 10 years. Although Padang is only a few metres above sea level, they are really getting prepared for a tsunami, and have many tall buildings which could act as refuges.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The former me would have noted the coincidence of a planned nuclear plant, and this seismic activity. Now I am just dryly mentioning that a series of earthquakes is hitting Sask. They need more seismic monitoring in that area, but with a new nuclear plant coming, they won't get it.
These people are quite shaken up at 6 mm/s. The Ministry would allow over 12 mm/s, and in most places they go to 15. Earthquake damage to housing actually starts at 500 mm/s. A strong earthquake on solid rock most likely can't exceed 100 mm/s at moderate distances.
However, in the zone of a 'super pulse', it's 1-2000 mm/s.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Even though I am in my death spiral of no money, and reduced readership, I had to comment on this proposal to refurbish Pick B. I worked on the EA for the refurb of PickA, and we did a whole seismic re-evaluation. This time, it is assumed the plant is perfect for seismic.
The only opposition is from people who don't want any nuclear, and nobody listens to them! Where is the 'moderate' opposition? Anyway, I don't think anybody appreciates what they have to go through for refurb, and how it most likely won't happen.
First off, these are fairly small reactors. Second, they have run them down to the ground, so a lot needs to be replaced. The most interesting are the steam generators, which have to be taken out of a hole in containment. The site is very congested, and has virtually no room for the necessary cranes.
Finally, this whole operation would require a lot of intelligence in a place where I have never found any. Is it possible?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Composed of a giant stack of champagne glasses, those crafty Belgians are attempting to outdo Chalk River in terms of seismic unsuitability.
More mud at the old Mud Volcano. They are compensating the victims, and diverting all transport away from the area. I'm not up on my mud volcanoes, but I wonder if this is going to be the biggest one ever!
Ha! San Bozodino has great faith in their signs: "If there's an earthquake, this building will kill you. Now, come in and enjoy 50% savings!"
I'm just collecting articles about cost overruns in preparation for new nuclear plants.
It is a great dream of earthquake bureaucrats to either have a 2 day 'weather forecast' of earthquakes, or to have a 30 second warning.
I'm in another depressive low cycle with regard to the blog. Normally, every morning I go through a lot of special search terms on the news to find special articles. Now I'm finding nothing, or I'm uninspired.
I'm combining my very long boring stories on Knol, for future reference, since my blog has become ridiculously large and messy. The latest is Rock Mechanics.
This is interesting. If you've ever been around Sudbury, you are amazed by the Martian moonscape land all around. This is land that has been killed by all the acid from the big smelter. Now they have big airplanes dumping limestone and grass seeds, and it appears to work. Of course, I don't think your umbrella will hold up if you're right under a dump zone!
These are the comments about the process of the panel review for the DGR. It is exactly the same process currently being followed by the Bruce C dream. I don't know the schedule, but we should soon see a draft EIS which will be more fun than Bruce! Since this project is all about the geology, we should all expect a little more effort in this area (Ha, Ha!).
Those days of schmoozing local officials, and giving money to their mothers, are now history. Yes, Virginia, there is now a special rule in New York State against doing that. Of course, that's only for wind farms, anything else is open season!
I was going to save this as something the nuke-opposition people could spring on the Bruce Mob at their parties, but I don't even think they'll go. I always love a good party, but I can't take the stomach acid of a direct confrontation.
The article that I like is all about my baby, the seismic network in southern Ontario. When I was rich and famous, I bent all sails to the wind to get this started, and funded from the old company. With me gone, even though they are trying to build a new nuclear plant, I wonder how it will survive, especially since the general attitude of the current leaders seems to dismiss all seismicity (floating nuclear plants?).
In this paper, they look at the site response of various sites. Ideally, you want your site response to be very flat, which means that no particular frequency is being amplified. If, however, you know the site response, you can remove this effect. The big problem comes if you are assessing damage, and you have no idea of the site response. As I have said before, if you are in a river basin, on soft clay, the amplifications can be 10-100 times!
As we see here, nearly all the stations have a very flat site response. That's because we made a lot of effort to find sites on hard till, which is nearly rock as far as seismic waves go. The main exception is our TORO site, which is on recent landfill out on the Leslie St. spit, which goes way out into Lake Ontario. Nevertheless, this is a good site location-wise, since it covers the Toronto area, and we could not find any good locations near the city, since the urban rumble was over-powering.
All of these sites have really good seismometers, which will act as strong ground motion sensors, should we have our expected earthquake. The clock is ticking for our large Toronto earthquake, and I'm always amazed that it seems to be 100 years late!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Of all the earthquakes that have happened during my long, long, long career, this earthquake has the most impact on me. On Dec 7, 1988, an earthquake of unimaginable power (grossly misrepresented by wimpy M7.0 rating) hit Armenia. There was nothing left but concrete dust! Sure, this was Soviet building, of a style now represented by North American condos, but this earthquake was special.
It led me to believe that some new science was at work here. After many years, I came up with my 'Fist of God' theory, which I have expounded on frequently. Unfortunately, engineers have largely ignored this type of 'extreme pulse' earthquake, and have focussed on stupid sinusoids. The Japan Nuclear Earthquake came to bite them, but they have ignored that, as well.
Every time you hear some Bruce Nuclear person dissing earthquakes, remember this!
Article Tar Baby
We can gunk up a rad waste with tar! I don't think we'll really do that, since Bentonite is nearly as good, but it raises the point of extra barriers. As well, a good study of natural deposits of radioactivity, is valid science. This concept of waiting for millions of years for every last atom of plutonium to decay, is ridiculous, especially if it means choking in coal forever, or polluting the world with subsidized corn ethanol.
This time we stayed at a fantastic place, the Westmount Marriot Residence Inn, right beside all those really old buildings on the hill. This is a really nice area with lots of shopping, better than the zoo downtown. Found a great tiny restaurant, 'Rotisserie Italiene' right near the hotel on St. Catherines. This is the tiniest place, with the boss lording over everything behind a counter. There are a few tables, and a bunch of 'monk' tables. You order at the counter, and pick things up as they come out. When we were there, there was a party of locals, and you felt like you were part of the party! The house wine and the food was fabuous!
ps. I left out a funny story. Big Mo traffic and driving is the worst! Every car has dings on the corners. Here I was in traffic, nearly stopped, and this car in the left lane suddenly changes lanes and whaps me! We pull over and this Westmount (rich) girl gets out, and she's got a new curly hair perm like a poodle! (She was really nice, but ditzy). She said she checked her 'blind spot', and didn't see anything because of her hair! I wasn't even in her blind spot, I was right beside her! Anyway, no damage on the old van, because the soft paint of her new car smeared over mine. I'll probably just leave it on for the winter!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Well, I blog for money and that's pretty sleazy, but my price is pretty low....
Anyway, the big thing about the article is that the science is pretty thin, and they are paying another hydro-geologist for an opinion. I don't think much of that, but I'm grouchy, and as the guy says, what do you expect me to say?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
We now have a version of the famous Monty Python sketch.
Of course, in this version, Obama is collecting up all the dead, and out comes Crazy Reid with Yuk-Yuk Mountain!
They may make the declaration "This project is dead, deceased, no longer living." But along with that is the implication that there will never be such a repository. This makes all those phony DOE contracts rather useless. They will have to dangle a fish that they will have a repository 'one day'.
I think the science in this area has been moribund ever since I was 'killed' within the old company. Certain people were much more comfortable not knowing anything! Today we focus on natural gas deposits. Here is a fascinating map.
It shows the natural gas and oil deposits of this area. Naturally, they do extend beyond the border! This is a fascinating map to me, because only I would ask why there is a straight line cutoff to the north. Of course, we all know it's the giant Hamilton Megathrust, and lines up perfectly with the north shore of Lake Ontario. The gas has all been trapped in the hanging wall, but there is one big perpendicular gash north of the line, near Hamilton. I'll take a wild guess that this is a wrench fault on the footwall, it just looks right.
Now we superimpose the seismicity (an actual superposition would be too much work!).
So, look where they want to put Nanticoke Nuclear! Another fascinating thing is that the gas fields end in a perpendicular line right at Niagara Falls. Here we have the horrendously high compressive stresses that are squishing the Niagara Tunnel flat, so no gas could bubble up to a trap. Yet the seismicity starts in Lake Ontario at this point! I suspect that for some reason the very same wrench fault has allowed this rock not to be as badly mangled as the Paleozoic to the south. As well, there is very complex Cambrian and Precambrian deep geology here. The seismic sections showed a very deep Cambrian basin at this point, again probably cut off by the wrench fault, so this is a very significant boundary.
But the amazing thing is that only Harold has any interest in this! Does anybody else ask the questions? Does this not totally confirm the Megathrust Hypothesis? No, because it hasn't penetrated the land of Big Money, and professor consultant contracts. So, we soldier on.
Anyway, what to do on a day off from blogging? That's right, read other blogs! And a really fascinating one is Inside the Queensway, featuring a lady reporter who is the world's fastest Blackberry typer!
What does this have to do with Nuclear Geology? Well, as we all know, the whole secret Ontario 'choice' of a nuclear vendor, was a giant bluff to get Harper to pay for the whole shebang! If he wanted to keep AECL going, he would have to throw in a few billion. Ontario had no other choice, since they had committed to place four big reactors on the Darlington postage stamp, and the ACR1000 pushes the common-sense limit on energy density.
But what about the hated French? They will never pick them, and they can't jam 4 reactors on that site. The decision will be delayed again and again, until AECL either gets the billions or falls apart.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
There it is, my certificate. Reminds me of a story. In the early 90's I was a happy guy at hydro, and donated a lot of blood and plasma. Now, my blood is so chock full of antidepressants, it would be illegal! I signed up for the unrelated bone marrow program, knowing it would be a million to one of ever being called. Lo and behold, they called the next month! They test for about 6 or more allotypes, and you have to be right on most of them.
That means this person somehow had middle-German origins, and was a pretty close match. I went through the procedure, which meant going to hospital. In those days I had to go to the old depressing cancer hospital Princess Margaret (since replaced). I was sharing with cancer patients, and very glad for my health. The operation was quick, but they bore a lot of holes in your spine. I was out and dancing the next day! (As far as I remember).
So, to help these people out, I recommend that everybody who donates blood sign up for this. I really recommend doing the blood for a while, so you see what it's like, and it helps them establish your general ruggedness.
ps. there's a sad part to the story, which is why I don't tell it much. The transplant was a success, but the person died in the process from infection.
So, as the story unfolds, we had this hare-brained idea handed down to us from the top. In those days, we had a powerful geotechnical/geology department, who could actually pull the big red cord on stupid ideas. Not any more!
We began by an investigation, which is always the way to start things. You may not know this, but of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is just a mill pond. It is very shallow.
It does eventually get down to 60 m, but that's as deep as my cottage lake! The project would consist of many separated lines, for cooling, since they got bloody hot! They would just lay on the bottom and be cooled by lake water, and it was so simple, it was presented as a SLAM-DUNK!
Once we got the bathymetry, we went for side-scan sonar. Inside of the sound waves going up and down, you put the beam on an angle, and look for scattering. It looks exactly like an air photo underwater! When we did the survey, we were looking at something pretty horrendous! Namely, there were these huge gashes all over the lake!
We had no clue what they were. They looked like giant plow furrows! Finally, one of our guys shot a famous video (wish it was on youtube!), in the middle of a very cold winter. It showed that a pressure ridge was the perfect analog of subduction plate tectonics. The wind-pushed ice was coming against a pressure ridge, and was subducting at about 1 foot per second. You could see the stuff just piling in! Now, we all know about ice from the Titanic, so for a 3 m pressure ridge, we were going down about 20-30 m!
The problem was solved! Lake Erie had huge monsterous ice plows! Of course, only then did we crack the secretive gas industry.
Turns out the nasty buggers had pipes all over the place, and they were always being ripped out by ice! They didn't want to tell anybody, because it looked bad. So now we were faced with the fact there were these giant nasty ice ploughs ripping everything up!
Now, the cables had to be buried, but how deep? We eventually came to the conclusion that they had to be buried 3 m, which was horrendously expensive, and the pipes would cook themselves. End of project!
Now, the lesson for a nuclear plant.
- Lake Erie is shallow. An intake would have to go out quite a way to get 10 m of water.
- Ice will rip out your intake structure, and block the intake. This leads to some pretty nasty accident scenarios.
ps. references Pipeline Lake Erie Scour
Monday, December 1, 2008
The great shakeout earthquake drill in California was notable for it's precision in specifying the scenario. This led to a fairly exact forecast of the shaking in each neighbourhood. But the interest died for any area just outside the hot spots. It's as though somebody just dodges the terrorist bullet, and says "Whew, I don't have to think about that again!"
Now, do they follow up with more specific scenarios? Do they have all of California shaking at once? That's a very interesting talking point, and I would love to be in that discussion.
Of course, then we have Toronto which doesn't have the remotest clue.
This was over at MEC, but there are other places.
I walk the dog a lot, and with heavy snow, I use snowshoes and nordic poles, but this was something I always wanted. Ever since I was a kid, I was a scout, and I read all my Baden-Powell stories. He always said to use a walking staff, since it was good for bashing the natives. (Joke!!) But those wooden staffs were heavy, and although I've made quite a few, I've never used them.
Now I've heard the places where I like to walk have coyotes! They say bring an umbrella to flash at them, but that's ridiculous. I decided that I had to have a weapon, and unlike GeologyJoe (see followers), I couldn't just strap on my six-gun and walk through town.
I just got this, and it has been great! It folds up when you are embarrassed, and has the most vicious carbide tip! The walking is a lot easier, and you can instantly tell the type of rock you are walking on, by the seismic waves! You can alternate arms so you don't become all lopsided, and it's easy to handle when you have to pick up a poop (as well as hold the leash, when dog-cops show up!).
Sure, you may laugh at us old guys for needing something like this, but other models come with a tripod screw for Nature pictures (this one says it does, but it doesn't).
A DC line is just like hooking up a battery to a light. The electrons travel at a constant velocity, so there are no electromagnetic waves, and no loss to the ground. This has an even greater benefit when going under the lake. All the heavy, ocean-crossing lines in Scandinavia are DC.
Except, away from the ocean, DC has a tiny problem. When it all juices up, with its huge inverters, and maximum electron momentum, it stores enough energy to fry a small city!! What happens when there is a sudden fault, like the Loch Erie Monster chomping the line?
This energy has to be dumped, and to do this you need huge grounding pads. You need good conductivity to ground, or all the cows for miles around will be shishkabob on four sticks! And that was a problem, since ground conductivity on limestone in fresh water approaches that of rubber! I gave a hurrah to the cows, when this project was canceled.
But I digress. Conductivity is good geology, but the real story was in the water!
To be continued, when I count all my money!
I'm back, and I know I have at least 5 readers who are smart enough to push buttons! :) It's the party season, and I dread the question of "What are you doing after retirement?" I can now say I blog for money! Even when I dip into the acid 'real world', I have excellent relationships with CNSC who are really rising from the ashes of the Keen affair. I can show them how to regain credibility! (maybe). As well, I managed to top my first $100 before the end of the month, so I'm getting a Christmas check! Yeah!
Here's an article that's all gung-ho about the northern Sask nuclear plant. I can safely say that I have absolutely nothing against it! Who cares? It's in the middle of frickin' nowhere!
How do you get people to work in Sask-Siberia? Probably not a problem if you pay them lots of money! This leads me to a funny story I heard lately. Seems the old company is trying to hire experienced infrastructure engineers, who have had 5-10 years experience in actually building something that stood up! They can't do it, because these people think Pickering is a wasteland, and they can only offer just under $100K, so they're not on the Fat Cat Pay List. But these engineers are getting $150K a year and working in the city! The same goes for real nuclear managers that could actually build a nuclear plant. They can only offer $150K, when these guys earn $1 million! So they are stuck promoting the internal people who are responsible for the Niagara Tunnel Disaster.
Since Sask is so keen, I thought they could also get the high-level nuclear waste, but then I thought of the Cigar Lake Flooding Disaster. These old, glaciated rocks are riddled with underground rivers. Despite words to the contrary, we will never have a waste storage in this crap.
Now, my 'NoNukesNever' buddy makes fun of me because I cling to a hope of rationality, and the thought we can actually have a nuclear plant, running at a reasonable cost. These are my Christmas wishes to make it happen:
GE slowly swallows AECL by steath. With the Harper non-government drowning, we can't expect any decisions from that quarter. If GE takes over AECL, they may actually put in the 2-bit rational changes in the ACR-1000 design to actually make it work! Better still, the whole place switches to installing Westinghouse, which is 99% of the same amount of jobs in Ontario as AECL.
Ontario gov't throws up it's hands. They finally realize they can't build a nuclear plant, using back-room, high-ethanol Bush tactics. They need to go Obama all the way!
Old company gets new management. Once the Ont. gov't releases iron control, the old company gets real management, and forgets about the NDP, the union, and the fat-cat issue.
Ok, that's about the same odds as a million-dollar meorite landing in my backyard, but I can always dream...