Friday, April 30, 2010

AECL starts filling the rusty bucket with a leaky hose


Well, good old Chalk River NRU should be operating soon. Meanwhile, hope springs eternal for the Maple Clown Reactor.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wind Turbine Infrasound


“There appears to be significant scientific uncertainty of how close you can have industrial turbines to where people live,” said Eric Gillespie, an environmental lawyer. He is representing Ian Hanna, a citizen whose application for judicial review of the Green Energy Act as it applies to wind turbines will be heard in September.

Ah, this is like the good old days when we were building nuclear plants!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Can't spit without hitting a California fault


I assume the California crust is fully fractal-fractured. That means the closer you look, the more smaller and smaller faults you find. Does it mean anything?

"I think every classroom in California should have these maps on the wall," said Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones. "I don't think we do enough to educate the general public about these features. We turn it into something for the specialists, as if science is only for scientists. But if you're going to buy a house, would you like to know what fault is under your house?"

Ms. Jones seems to think so, and I'll believe anything she says! :)

Seismic Hazard - Don't Bother with Schools


Optimists make the point that Charleston hasn't experienced an earthquake since the big one in 1886. A letter writer to this page recently noted that even if there were an earthquake, odds are that students wouldn't be in school when it occurred. That estimation was based on the fact that schools aren't in session on weekends, summers and even for much of the day during the school year.

Yeah! This statement is the best thing since BoobQuake!

With my intraplate earthquake theory, Charleston (Summerstown) is a mid-level zone. That puts it above Toronto (Hamilton), and below New Madrid. I think the above statement is what Toronto uses for it's horrible old schools. There is one with a 10 foot unsupported parapet! Think of what that's going to do to the kiddies beneath!

Anyway, Charleston is fun because they've had a big quake, and totally ignore the hazard. I remember walking there and seeing new shopping malls and condos go up,without a speck of lateral support. The US (outside of California) has always had a problem with building codes.

Clown Barge and Rotors


The manufacturer of two huge turbine rotors that sank in Saint John harbour on their way to NB Power's Point Lepreau nuclear generating station in 2008 is suing J.D. Irving Ltd. and three other companies for more than $160 million in damages.

Irving owns New Brunswick, so Siemens had to use them. I'm glad to see that corporate senility is finally taking Irving-co. Unfortunately, they will probably take all of NB with them!

Anyway, this is a fascinating story!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fire in the Hole! Smoked Becky!


Four Strabag workers were taken to hospital as a precaution Tuesday after an early morning fire inside the Niagara Tunnel Project forced about 30 workers to take shelter in rescue containers and put in practice the emergency procedures they practice every six months.

Just as I wrote they weren't doing so hot, they actually got hot! Whoda guessed it?

I'm glad everybody is ok, and all ready for the next mess....

Niagara Tunnel Not Doing So Hot

April 25th 2010 -

The TBM is at 6,745 meters. There is up to 1 meter over-break. Elevation is 91 meters below the surface. Daily mining average is 12 meters.

The Invert Concrete Carrier is at 4,775 meters.

My heart pours out for these people, and I have developed a great affection. I just came back to blogging, complained that they weren't reporting without me, and here we get a report! I really am their only customer for these things! I'm glad they get tons of money no matter how bad things get.

They have slowed down and are getting 1 m of overbreak. However, they are in the extremely hard and tough dolostone. This is the stuff that resists the flow of Niagara Falls! That 1 m of overbreak must be worse to handle that the 10 m of Queenston Shale overbreak, since it must be coming down in big hunks. The shale might have unraveled as gravel, but I wish I knew.

As I have mentioned before, it is the circular cross-section that has brought this on. The stress concentration is just too high at the roof. Unfortunately, this rock has a tendency to deform 'forever', which means it will put high pressure on the lining.

They don't even mention their 'little problem' with the main lining. This was the main thing I was thinking about when I first wrote about the tunnel (referenced in Geofish Clarified). The lining is on the critical path for the final working tunnel, and it is grievously stuck. They are trying to plaster on endless coats of shotcrete to beef up the overbreak. It's like my horrible problems the past week trying to cover up a garish pink wall in the basement with Atomic Tangerine. I'm up to 5 coats already, and then I had to go back with 2 coats of covering white! Blah!

So, I think they are on track for 4 billion. Since the lining is so delayed, I really expect another temporary lining failure. This will knock it up to 5 billion.

One good thing, this tunnel will break the world record for Highest Price-Earnings Ratio.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons learned from Iceland volcano

That was the cover of my Economist this week. Actually, I don't believe that anybody ever learns any lessons from these 'wakeup calls', but there are lessons that they should have learned.

1. A minor dusting like this week is a 1 in 100 (or 50) year event. This falls out of living memory, and there hasn't been anything like this since modern aviation took off. There should be some preparation for these events, and this can save billions.

2. Some consideration should be given to the 1 in 500 year events. These are devastating earthquakes, like Lisbon. In most cases, all you can do is quickly clean up. For Iceland volcanoes, we're talking a 'Black Death' event.

If no consideration is given for the minor events, then the worst thing is over-reaction. They set their tolerance for volcanic ash to zero point zero, which is a lazy thing to do. Just shut down everything if there is a volcano! But the weasly toadies started to change when the big boys were inconvenienced. Then they knocked the target up to some random level that allowed executive jets to fly.

Had they done something in advance, it would have been an easy matter to set some physics-based levels. What level clogs up a jet engine? What level just shortens life between tear-downs.

Are the toady regulators this bad in other areas? You bet! Right here in Ontario, they are ready to shut down all the nuclear reactors with a significant 1 in 100 earthquake, since this will ravage the power grid system. The toady regulator hasn't got a speck of credibility, yet when we are all freezing in the dark, and everybody is dying, they will allow the nuclear plants to start up without inspection, and without any criteria. Or will they? Has any regulator allowed a nuclear plant to start up willy-nilly after an earthquake? Most likely it's 6 months of inspections. This will be just as interesting as Europe!

Of course, we haven't even approached the 1 in 500 year events! There won't be an over-reaction, since it will be horrible. Again, some planning, such as building codes, will work here. For Europe, they better develop a good ash filter for trains and trucks! Forget the planes!

Buy an expensive piece of crummy rock


Amazing, some of this rock has been tested as the world's oldest rock, but some of it may not be. That's the fun, you can't tell the difference! It's like buying a piece of the Berlin wall, which may just be an old piece of concrete.

In any case, you have to deeply trust the old guy, and people have tried to sell this stuff before. Anybody want a piece of ugly rock?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nuclear Waste Forever at Home


LACEY TOWNSHIP — Twenty concrete vaults sit side-by-side, like self-storage containers, next to the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant. These concrete tombs hold fuel cells, each containing 12-foot rods of enriched uranium. The rods are toxic and radioactive and were never intended to be stored here indefinitely, among Ocean County's 560,000 residents.

This is a nicely written article. It also gives some details on the dry casks.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh the Heck with Google!

So, I won't get anymore wine money from those oh, so, corporate, black suits. Who cares? I'll just write a very little amount without it. They lost a big fan. I'll wait for some other source of wine money, some of those products I have reviewed owe me a lot! Amazon is coming full force to Canada! And I'm still not allowed to say "Click on the Damn Ads or I Quit" That's a big bo-bo in the ads world.

After the big splash about Beckygate, I have mixed feelings. Do you know without me gone, those tunnel guys don't even do their reports?

But I stand by my estimate of 4-5 billion, since it is a cost-plus contract now. I don't think the people contacting Mr. Gallant have a clue, since it isn't about a Canadian contractor. It's about a circular cross-section! I'm just amazed there seems to be no great public reaction about this.

How about that volcano? Such a tiny thing! (in the world of volcanoes). All the problems were caused by the 650 m of ice. I was thinking of a title "Global Warming Insufficient to Save Europe"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mr. Google Kisses Me Off

My adsense account was closed today. The shame of it all! Obviously they thought I was jacking the system, and didn't have real clicks.

Can I help it if only 1 or 2 people actually clicked? There goes my wine money, and my desire to write. Have fun everybody!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sinking Wind Turbines


Offshore farms produce more reliable power because the wind is less intermittent, and they allow firms to avoid getting entangled in the UK's labyrinthine planning regulations.
But they are notoriously expensive, and large firms including BP and Royal Dutch Shell have pulled out of the sector.
But Stephen Remp, executive of SeaEnergy PLC, said: 'The offshore wind opportunity is truly enormous, with over £130bn of investment envisaged over the next 11 years through the Scottish and UK Offshore Rounds.'

An amazing situation! Old guys pulling out, and new guys all pouring in.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I appear to be cured of Blogo-philia

I worked for 30 years in the old company. The first 10 I worked building massive things. I was happy if we pulled it off for twice the price, and twice the time of what I considered reasonable, since there were political forces to overcome, and strong unionism.

In the next 10 years we didn't build, but I did a lot of seismic stuff. I helped to release millions of dollars to the scientific community, doing geophysical surveys, and setting up seismic monitoring. We still have the best intraplate seismic monitoring in the world. But during that time, they started their intellectual purge and I suffered.

The last 10 years I just seemed to get outraged at gross stupidity and massive wastes of money. Every time I had an 'episode', it took another 10 times worse to get me going again. I had a really big one for a 3 million dollar waste (Pickering sinking transformer). Then it took about a 100 million (Bruce underground waste repository). As I left, I was outraged about billions (Niagara Tunnel).

I had intense blogo-philia for 3 years. Some of my 'interests' became societal, such as no earthquake preparation for Toronto (5 billion dollar waste). I had to express myself on earthquake mechanisms, specifically on how everybody else was wrong! :) Of course, there were still the big local wastes.

Now, all of a sudden, I feel 'cured'! They can waste billions on the tunnel, who cares? We're never building a nuclear plant, so I feel that is the top limit for our fractal organizations that control our lives.

Normally, when I'm off the blog, I was depressed, or on vacation, fishing. I could have written something on that deep Spanish earthquake, and the weird geology, but I didn't. Wow!

I'll probably come back if:

-the tunnel has another collapse, and people realize the actual cost liability
-a big earthquake with interesting geology
-an actual earthquake near Toronto.

Friday, April 9, 2010

When the Subsidy Party Ends


I find this interesting. Old Shoppers goes from being filthy rich, opening all these fancy new stores, to utter poverty in a day! The government must divert the money to pay for the billions sunk into the Niagara Tunnel!

Somebody asked me today what will happen with all these solar and wind farms? It's my opinion that they will be abandoned in 10 years. All the subsidy incentive is towards putting them up and running them down to the ground while they get a huge amount of money for the power. This stuff is all 'high performance engineering' like race cars. You can see the grinding metal dust pouring out of them as they whirl! :)
There is nothing sadder than seeing a 10 year old wind farm. Although some people may bitch about the initial subsidies for nuclear plants, it takes a good 30 years to run them into the ground by reckless operation. All the parts are 'nuclear grade' and run at very low stress levels.

Now, some Europeans are banning land windmills, and just going for the offshore type. Can you imagine how you'd maintain these things? I shudder at the thought. So, when the subsidy tap turns off for these things, expect the worst. :)

Nuclear Waste - Zee French are not Miracle Masters


WASHINGTON, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Contrary to some prevailing opinion, reprocessing would not eliminate the need for a deep geologic disposal program to replace Yucca Mountain. It aggravates waste, proliferation, and cost problems. The volume of waste to be disposed of in deep geologic repository is increased about six times on a life-cycle basis in the French approach compared to the once-through no-reprocessing approach of the United States.

This seems like a reasonable statement, nothing loony about it. Glad to know there are some actual thinking think tanks still around.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chile gets rid of highly enriched uranium (HEU)


i just noticed this, because Canada has a good hunk of this up in the seismic death pit known as Chalk River. But we know what we're doing! :)

Nuclear Fuel Pools Like US Prisons


``The pools were never designed to hold this much fuel to start with,'' said King, the former NRC inspector.
Using the Boraflex panels and inserting boron into the water are intended to absorb neutrons to prevent the nuclear rods from ``going critical. You don't want criticality in a fuel pool. That would be disastrous,'' said King.
Philip Stoddard, a longtime critic of Turkey Point and a biology professor at Florida International University, said, ``FPL has been playing a game of chicken with the NRC'' by continuing to increase the density of the rods in the pools.

The fuel storage is bulging right now, what's it going to be like in 20 years, which is how long the current Blue Ribbons will milk their party!

Vermont Yankee Witchhunt


On 1 March, the NRC issued a DFI requiring Entergy to confirm that information provided to the NRC is accurate and that the impact of recent personnel changes is assessed with regards to regulatory programme performance and safety culture. This action stemmed from an Entergy decision to take action against certain employees at Vermont Yankee after misleading information was provided to the State of Vermont and then not corrected. Entergy responded to that DFI on 31 March and agreed to conduct additional communications and outreach activities with stakeholders.

I'm just reading the surface ripples here, and relating it to the old company. Obviously, the 'misleading information' was the truth! You can only read the surface with these companies. Like my statement that the Niagara Tunnel is now on cost-plus. Someone has contested that this would be ridiculous, but I'm using very subtle clues here. If the statement is true, you'd never hear anything about it. If the bankrupt media grabbed it, it would be denied because of semantics, just like a teenager - "No, I did not totally wreck the car! Here's the rearview mirror."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plinko, Earthquakes, and Methane Explosions

On this site you can play a game of Plinko. Watch the nice falling balls. You can watch a long time before one ball plinks all the way along the outer edge and falls into #10. I read a great book on the use of Plinko in business, and quality control. If you plot a time graph of cost overruns or some other thing, and most observation are lying in a nice narrow band, you can easily expect an excursion of 3 times the mean every once in a while. That's the #10!

That's because most error processes, methane bursts, wind gusts, and earthquakes, are the results of many little probabilities. Most earthquakes just burst away, but every once in a while, everything lines up and Plinko!

The important thing in business is to recognize that you have a binomial distribution, and then be able to handle the major excursions. The worst thing to do is to only react to #10, and then try to steer the process. This will result in over-steering. Try to explain that to your boss! Bureaucracies become hardened by reacting to the excursions, and everything becomes fractal, which makes things worse.

The actual shape of the curve depends on the general fractal-ness of the problem, and the true limits. Earthquakes are limited to around M9.something, because a single plate arc can only be a certain number of thousands of kilometres long.

Now, if Big Coal Boss (who resembles some bosses I have known) had ever measured anything, he might have noted methane bursts in the fan exhaust. If this were Plinko'd, then we would certainly expect a burst to cross the 'Certain Death' line.

Such is the fun of fractal distributions, and plinko probabilities!

ps. I finally got that damn Java plugin working on my 64 bit Debian Linux! Turns out there's a bug and they're not going to fix it, because it's so easy to run a single command. Oh yeah! Took me a long time to find that stupid command.

California Earthquake - No Hospital Standing


It looks like all the hospitals will be in bad shape, if they have a real earthquake. Maybe they should just accept this, and make sure the football fields are ready for field hospitals. The tragedy of the States is that there is no modern public housing for workers or poor people. They all live in the decayed housing of abandoned neighbourhoods. Look at New Orleans and see how fast the cheap housing returns. Decayed old hospitals in poor districts are in the same boat.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If it's Tuesday, this must be Indonesia (Earthquake!)


Yeah! Another day, another earthquake! This happened right on the plane of the big 2004 M9.1, so it's a bit unusual, and might be called a large and late aftershock. M7.8 really isn't that large in this neck of the woods!

Unless it triggered an underwater landslide, I can't see much happening here.

Methane could be released by an earthquake


But the release of methane is not uniform over time; it can appear in puffs, creating a potentially explosive concentration.

...said that one frequent source of methane reaching the working areas of mines, where workers could accidentally create a spark and ignite it, are the “gob areas” of the mine, which have been mined out and shut down. These are supposed to be sealed off, but sometimes the seal is not effective.

Mr. Pilcher said that most machinery used in coal mines comes equipped with methane sensors that shut everything down if the concentration in the air gets too high. One key to safety, he said, is whether miners inform their managers when equipment shuts itself down in this way. The incentives to do so are mixed, because some miners are paid bonuses for higher production.

This is interesting. There is always seismic activity around mining, but regional seismometers could never catch it. There was an M3.4 just days before the accident, but that's probably the smallest they can record. The US is very cheap on seismic monitoring! All these sealed pockets of methane can burst out with the slightest seismic motion, or a 'slow earthquake' (strain event).

I don't think they do enough to look at the natural variations. Those big fans carry out a huge amount of methane gas in this mine. If they had the ability to look at a time history, I'm sure they would have a very wobbly line. If you plotted these bursts as a standard earthquake frequency plot (binomial distribution), you would see there is a remote chance for a very big burst, just like an M8 sits on top of a very large number of smaller earthquakes. So, it was inevitable, just like a big earthquake for California!

Global Warming Dead - Next Disaster Please


My wager is that within a few years "climate change" will exercise global nerves about as much as overpopulation, toxic tampons, nuclear winters, ozone holes, killer bees, low sperm counts, genetically modified foods and mad cows do today.

Something is going to have to take its place.

We could go with Global Earthquaking. The scenario here is that right-wing corporate interests have drilled too much and too deep. They have weakened Mother Earth to the point that earthquakes are starting to pop up all over the place! The evidence is clear -- just look at all the earthquakes! In a hundred years, no building will be able to stand up, and there will be the collapse of civilization.

Yep, I think that's a good one!

California - Too Broke for Earthquakes


SAN FRANCISCO — As residents on both sides of the Mexican border cleaned up after Sunday’s earthquake, the authorities warned that many Californians remained unprepared for a serious quake, and emergency officials said that budget cuts have strained their ability to handle a disaster.

This earthquake was strongly felt over a long distance, which I find is unusual for California. Large numbers of elevators were powered off because of overly sensitive sensors. The design of the sensor makes it very sensitive to low frequency ground motions, with a PGV of perhaps a few millimetres/sec. They should only cut off at something like 5-10 cm/sec, since having large numbers of people stuck is a hazard in itself.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Niagara Tunnel Beavers Away

Oh, I can't say that word! All the spam filters will filterize it!

March 31st 2010 -

The TBM is at 6,469.5 meters. There is up to 1 meter over-break. Elevation is 91 meters below the surface. Daily mining average is 15 meters.

The Invert Concrete Carrier is at 4,525 meters.

The Overbreak/Restoration Carrier is at 800 meters. This operation will be between 800 meters and 1,400 meters for a period of time as the carrier has to go back and forth several times.

Note that the overbreak filler has been stuck at exactly the same place for months!

Note that nobody is talking about the final cost anymore. That's because they're not holding the contractor to anything. OPG is paying cost-plus, and the contractor is happy-happy. They've opened up a full tap to the 'Stranded Asset' debt machine, and everything is full blast! We may never know the cost, since sucking on debt has always been off the books.

Baja Earthquake - Doesn't Mean Much

Well, I had a very nice Easter Weekend. I was doing all family stuff when this earthquake hit. Although you could look at it and say "My, it's at the beginning of the San Andreas sequence." No, a Measly Magnitude 7.2 isn't even a full tooth on the quake-zipper! Because the San Andreas is so complex with so many locked zones, there is no pattern of 'marching' such as Turkey or Haiti. An M8 would be significant to fault stress, but an M7 can make a big mess if it is right under a city.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Corruption Starts Killing Again


'Twas corruption that killed the city." And corruption keeps them starving. I wonder what Bill and 'W' are going to do about that?

Blogs in Danger!


The Supreme Court is getting very interested in blogs lately. I like to think they took this case in order to smash down the concept that you hold personal liability for a link. If that were the case I'd actually have to read the stuff I link to!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No reactor for Sask.


Mercer-type rant:

Research reactors cannot be doled out to intellectual wastelands of the country. We need a new spot to replace depressing Chalk River, and Sask. ain't it! Since I am the spokesman for Canadian Intellectual Depressives, I can tell you that no CID can survive in a backwater! Look at that poor guy whose body is still waiting for the spring thaw, and the blackflies to leave. Could he stand Deep River? Would he have been able to stand Moose Jaw? Why not put a nuclear research centre on the coke wastes of Cape Breton?

No, I'm suggesting we take over Port Hope. All the nuclear CID's move there and pitch out the locals! We'll put in a nice accelerator, buy a South Korean Maple, and do some world-class work. The money will attract a bullet train link to Toronto and Montreal! World-class partying!

The rock is perfect, so we'll put in a huge, dry underground waste conversion temporary processing storage. We'll say all those confusing words to confuse people, since we have no intention of splitting open those fuel bundles. We'll have rock concerts in the huge caverns that are waiting to get filled! The used fuel will provide free heat for everyone! We've got to get it good enough so we can poach talent from all over the world! Do you think those guys want to go to Armpit-ville?

This will work, and when we have enough talent again, we can actually make commercial reactors that work! Let all those old nuclear union-guys retire in their quaint little remote villages, we will take over the world!

*please note that I have offended everybody in the world. Thank god nobody reads this! :)

New Plug: Scanning Electron Microscope

Once again I'm being a shill for nothing... The boys at ASPEX want me to plug this.

As usual, since my blog is so massively popular, this will bump them up on the charts. But, they have a deal to make it interesting! If you send in a sample, they will scan it and make you famous! It could be the bug you found in your sandwich, or the strange green fuzz in your fridge! Whatever!

I was thinking I would dig up a sample of Queenston Shale, and show the microstructure that cost OPG extra billions for the Niagara Tunnel! But then I thought, that seems like work! So, nah......