Friday, September 2, 2011

Louisiana declares emergency as storm brews - Three major oil companies have closed down their platforms in the Gulf in advance of the storm. Louisiana has declared a state of emergency as it prepares for a tropical depression to bring up to 15in (38cm) of rain over the weekend. Tropical Depression 13 - to be named Lee if upgraded to a tropical storm as expected - is creeping north through the Gulf of Mexico. While the storm could spell flooding for parts of the Gulf, it could also bring much-needed rain to Texas.
The US is still recovering from Hurricane Irene, which hit the east coast last weekend, killing more than 40 people. Nearly 900,000 homes and businesses still have no electricity. The new tropical depression was packing winds of 35mph (55km/h) and centred about 225 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Announced on Thursday evening, coastal and inland areas could be hit by flash floods within 48 hours. Tropical storm warnings are now in effect from the Texas state line to the eastern Mississippi coast. "We've got a huge area of moisture. We've got a developing wind field. We're probably going to see some tremendous rain amounts and the corresponding flooding that goes with that."
Meanwhile, Hurricane Katia was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday, but was expected to regain strength as it moved westward in the Atlantic. The Atlantic hurricane season usually brings about a dozen named storms, but Katia is already the 11th with half the season still ahead.

**Fall seven times, stand up eight.**
Japanese Proverb

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
9/1/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - Fresh quake hits the city of Christchurch, still struggling from February temblor. Since the 6.3-magnitude quake on February 22, the region has experienced more than 4000 aftershocks, hampering the recovery effort and reinforcing uncertainty about the future.

Another aftershock from earthquake reported in central VIRGINIA - this one of 3.4 magnitude. Mineral was the epicenter of last Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast. More than 20 aftershocks ranging from 4.5 to 1.8 have followed the earthquake.
Earthquake caused massive nuclear storage casks to move - The shifting of spent-fuel casks at Dominion Virginia Power's North Anna nuclear power plant last week was THE FIRST CAUSED BY AN EARTHQUAKE IN THE U.S. Last week's central Virginia earthquake caused 25 spent-fuel storage casks — each weighing 115 tons — to move on their concrete pad. None of the metal cylinders was damaged and no radiation was released. Like hockey pucks on a jostled tray, the 16-foot tall casks shifted from an inch to 4½ inches. "They just moved because of the vibration. They remained upright and fully intact." Federal regulators will examine data from the spent-fuel storage area as part of the inspection of the plant that the NRC began Tuesday. "The information available indicates the shifting did not affect safety in any way. It is an instance of an event we had not previously seen, so we're trying to learn as much as possible."
Used nuclear fuel rods from commercial atomic power plants are highly radioactive. Dominion Virginia Power has 27 of the massive TN-32 storage casks standing vertically outdoors on the concrete pad. The casks, made from thick steel, are not fastened to the ground, being held in place by gravity. Concrete bunkers for other used-fuel containers stored horizontally at the Louisa County power station experienced "cosmetic" damage. "None of these moved." NRC regulations specify the spacing of the vertically set dry casks from one another mainly to ensure workers are not exposed to unexpected levels of radiation. "If the spacing shifts a slight amount, the dose shifts a very slight amount. Those doses have to be taken into account. The doses would be very low in any case."
The NRC requires a nuclear plant's assemblies of spent fuel rods to be cooled in water pools for at least five years before being transferred to dry casks. Spent-fuel storage in casks is considered safe, the NRC said. Such storage systems are designed to resist floods, tornadoes, projectiles, temperature extremes and other unusual scenarios. During the past 20 years, there have been no radiation releases affecting the public, no radioactive contamination, and no attempts to sabotage spent-fuel casks or their storage sites across the U.S.
Last week's magnitude-5.8 earthquake shook protective electrical devices at the North Anna Power Station strongly enough to cause the plant to shut down automatically, THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS OCCURRED IN THE UNITED STATES. The power station remained out of service Wednesday as company and NRC officials continued detailed inspections of its two 980-megawatt reactors and other station structures and systems.
"To date, there has been no significant earthquake-induced damage in safety-related structures or systems important to safety and shutdown cooling. Nuclear plant operators originally anticipated that spent fuel would be reprocessed, with usable portions of the fuel recycled and the rest disposed of as waste. However, commercial reprocessing was never successfully developed in the United States, and no permanent waste repository has yet been developed. Utilities have looked to the dry-cask system to increase spent-fuel storage capacity. "I'd prefer to see emptier spent-fuel pools and more dry casks at the (nuclear plant) sites. It's the best way to manage the spent-fuel storage risk."


Popocatepetl volcano. Water, ash and rocks are flowing down the flanks of the Popocatepetl volcano southeast of Mexico City. Mexico's national disaster prevention agency says it has warned the communities near the volcano to be alert.

-Tropical storm Katia continues over the open immediate threat to land...located about 830 mi...1335 km E of the northern Leeward Islands. Katia is forecast to regain hurricane strength during the next day or so. Swells generated by Katia will begin affecting the Lesser Antilles by late today.

-Tropical depression 13 was located about 240 mi...385 km SW of the mouth of the Mississippi River and about 295 mi...475 km SSE of Port Arthur Texas. The system is currently nearly stationary. Maximum sustained winds are.35 mph...55 km/h. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pascagoula Mississippi westward to Sabine Pass Texas...including the city of New Orleans. The center of the cyclone is expected to approach the coast of southern Louisiana during the weekend. Gradual strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and the depression could become a tropical storm later today. The depression is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches over southern Louisiana...southern Mississippi...and southern Alabama through Sunday...with possible isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches. A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above ground level along the northern Gulf Coast in areas of onshore flow.

-Tropical Storm 15w (Talas) was located approximately 280nm southeast of iwakuni, Japan.

JAPAN is bracing for a major typhoon that is expected to cross over the western and central areas of the archipelago during the next two days. Typhoon Talas was travelling slowly at 10km/h today. It was packing winds of up to 180km/h and setting off downpours and strong winds. The typhoon was expected to cause rainfalls for long periods, because of its relative slow speed. Among the rain-affected will be the northeastern part of Japan devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and still covered in mud and rubble. Typhoons in Japan frequently cause mudslides, halt trains and planes, with heavy winds injuring people struck by flying objects or slamming them to the ground.

Irene reveals more cracks in quake-damaged Washington Monument - Small pools of standing water were found in the Washington Monument during inspections following Hurricane Irene, the National Park Service said Wednesday, indicating undiscovered cracks.


Parts of Vermont already ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene are under a flash flood warning - More rain in parts of Vermont ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene has led to flash floods that stranded two workers repairing a damaged bridge Thursday evening in North Clarendon.