Contributing Editors



UD’s “Blue Hens” Buy Bankrupt Site for Scientific Studies

by John Stevens October 27, 2009 9:01 AM
University of Delaware officials are anxiously preparing for a “transformational opportunity,” assuming their purchase agreement for the 272-acre site (located just south of the main campus near the university's sports complex and agricultural lands) formerly occupied by the Chrysler Assembly Plant in Newark (DE) is approved by the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court in New York.

According to an October 26 posting on philly.com, U of D officials envision building laboratories and other science and research facilities (perhaps even a medical campus in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and several Delaware medical institutions.)

The focus on research is part of President Patrick Harker's vision for the University of Delaware. The school is a major research university that spends roughly $100 million on research projects (with the majority of those being federally-funded.) The university plans to boost its research in alternative energy, defense in cooperation with the U.S. Army and health as well as entering into more corporate partnerships.

"It's not enough that universities do research. You've got to do research with impact and make a difference in your community and region," said Scott Douglass, executive vice president and university treasurer. [More]

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General | Storage

Recovery Funds Facilitate Faster Waste Removal in SC

by Winnie Hsiu October 27, 2009 8:37 AM
In the small hamlet of Aiken, known by locals as “Thoroughbred Country” because of the wealthy New Yorkers, who came to the quaint southern town to train their racing horses in the winter months more than a century ago, nuclear waste is being removed swiftly and smoothly.

As first reported in an October 27 posting on aikenstandard.com, thanks to funding from the Recovery Act (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – ARRA - an economic stimulus package enacted in February, 2009 by the U.S. Congress worth $787 billion which includes spending in infrastructure - including the energy sector) the Savannah River Nuclear Site is much further along – and much faster - in their cleanup to reduce their facility’s footprint by 67%.

In early October, a shipment off-site of 7 barrels of tritium- and mercury-contaminated oil (known as “legacy oil”) was sent to Diversified Scientific Solutions Inc., near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where it will be run through a combustion unit, enabling the resulting ash to meet land disposal regulations. The legacy oil, which was generated as far back as 1985, was used as lubricant in equipment at the old tritium facility.

Initially, this waste was to be left to decay (which would have taken from 10-15 years) for eventual disposition in 2053. [More]

Tense Testimony Today in VT Nuclear Waste Storage

by John Stevens October 26, 2009 8:55 AM
Vermont’s 37-year-old nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee (located in southeastern Wyndman County and owned by Entergy Corporation) has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to extend its operating license until 2032 – well past the 2012 expiration date on its current license.

Vermont Yankee produces one-third of the electric power Vermonters use each year. Whether it continues to operate or closes, consumers have much at stake.

According to wcax.com, today (October 26), 2 Senate committees will review testimony on the adequacy of the analysis that allowed Vermont Yankee to store radioactive fuel rods in steel and cement casks on a pad outside the reactor building. At question? The surrounding geology and the radioactive waste measured outside the plant and property. [More]

WA Wineries Grow on Smaller Price Points

by Kim Kilpatrick October 26, 2009 7:34 AM
Although Washington State ranks #2 in the U.S. as a premium wine producer (following California, of course), the massive storage and fermentation tanks being constructed throughout its own “wine country” hints that, in the words of Bob Dylan, “Times They are A-Changin’.”

As reported in an October 26 posting on sfgate.com, Precept Brands – a purveyor of the under-$10-a-bottle market - recently expanded to a 53,000-square-foot facility with storage tanks rivaling those found at diesel plants in size.

Another hint that things are changing: Goose Ridge Vineyards (up the road from Precept, in Richland, WA), just completed construction of a massive production facility of its own, enabling this smaller winery to bottle 325,000 cases this year.

According to Waterbrook Winery (Precept’s flagship label) winemaker John Freeman, "There's a lot of consolidation overall in the wine industry…a lot of the bigger wineries, not necessarily us, have a lot more market opportunity; there's room to grow." [More]

CT’s Costly Complex Completes Committee Agenda

by Holly Robinson October 25, 2009 1:45 PM
The Constitution State is expected to bond $100 million toward the upgrade of the New Haven rail yard complex next week, following a lower-than-expected bid for one major element, and the promise of federal funding, according to an October 24 posting on nhregister.com (serving New Haven, CT). Republican Governor Matilda Jodi Rell put the item on Friday’s Bond Commission meeting.

The improved complex (which, understandably, became a source of contention after the original price of $300 million ballooned to $1.2 billion) will service the new fleet of 300 M8 rail cars for the Metro-North line, with the first eight cars set to arrive (in CT) over the next 4 months from Japan-based Kawasaki.

Good news for Rell and CT - bids for the 293,000-square-foot “change-out” shop ( a maintenance shop for the trains), came in at $124.8 million, less than half the $261 million estimate made by Hill International. Additionally, the federal government has agreed to pledge $29.9 million in stimulus money toward the cost. (There were a total of 5 bids submitted for the change-out shop, with the highest coming in at $172.95 million.) [More]

“Vintage” Snowbirds: WWII Planes Head (Slightly) South in MI for the Winter

by Tony Gonzalez October 25, 2009 1:12 PM
4 World War II aircraft “migrated” 20 miles south Monday (October 19); from Willow Run Airport to Grosse Ile Municipal Airport - both in Michigan. All 4 are now considered rare commodities with a total worth $5-$7 million, according to Larry Amprim, Yankee Air Museum dispatch rider manager. The move was precipitated by the ailing economy.

As reported in an October 24 post on thenewsherald.com (“the voice of Downriver”), each of these 4 archetypal planes landed swiftly and was positioned in the front of the hangar that would become their “winter home.” The smallest and first to arrive was a vibrant yellow V-77, followed less than a quarter of an hour by 3 sparkling steel “flying archives”: a B-17, a B-25 and a C-47.

The Yankee Air Museum, which now owns these 4 pristine planes, is an organization created by a group of World War II enthusiasts and veterans who joined forces in 1981 to show the surrounding community what an integral part Detroit played in that era. [More]

FBI Audits Audrey Smith Storage in FL

by John Stevens October 24, 2009 12:08 PM
According to an October 24 posting on ocala.com, Audrey Smith Storage, located in Summerfield at 14535 S. U.S. 441, is the center of an FBI "ongoing investigation" regarding the distribution of explosive materials by 55-year-old Wayne Farrar of Lake City, Florida, who is was charged in Jacksonville’s federal court of Thursday, October 22. Farrar’s bond hearing is set for Monday (October 26.)

Special Agent Jeff Westcott of the FBI field office in declined to elaborate on the case or comment on whether anything was found in the storage unit, although he did confirm that the investigation originated in Lake City, which is roughly 100 miles north of Summerfield.

Sergeant Jeff Gold, who is in charge of the Marion County Sheriff's Office Bomb Unit, said his personnel wore bomb suits and that Marion County fire officials had on HAZMAT gear when they searched one storage unit. He said they ensured the building was safe before leaving at 6PM.

Head of the Marion County Sheriff Office’s Intelligence, Forensics and Technology Bureau, Major Terry Bovaird, told the Star-Banner (Ocala’s daily newspaper) on Friday (October 23) that the storage unit that was inspected was filled with household goods and that although no explosives were found at the time of the search, the FBI did take some of the items for further review. [More]

The Day the Music Died – The Era of “The Sheds” - Carolina’s Heart of Rock & Roll, Ends

by Kim Kilpatrick October 24, 2009 8:13 AM
Bill Gates may have started his empire in his garage, but it was in one of the 139 bays of “The Sheds” – also known as Sumter Street Self-Storage - that hometown favorite Hootie & the Blowfish wrote and practiced hits like "Hold My Hand" and "Only Wanna Be With You," which were included on the 1994 Grammy-winning album "Cracked Rear View," selling 16 million copies, according to an October 23 posting on wsj.com

"The Sheds," which are located on an industrial strip on the fringe of the University of South Carolina campus (in Columbia, the state’s capital) have been legendary to local rockers for more than two decades, but thanks to local curmudgeon Clif Judy, the music at "The Sheds" is about to end.

Mr. Judy, whose taste leans more toward Bach and Beethoven, lives less than one mile from The Sheds, and claims the "boom, boom" of the rock music interrupted the bucolic sounds of chirping crickets and whirring of wee-hour trains he so enjoys. So, for the past two years, he has made it his mission to shut down The Sheds.

Sadly, his consistent complaints to the Richland County zoning board succeeded when, in early October, the board declared that the self-storage bays were not intended for band practice. The Sheds' owners (who claim they have already spent in excess of $20,000 defending themselves against Mr. Judy's complaints), shocked Shed’s fans when they opted not to appeal, and have begun the arduous task of notifying the various band tenants that while they may continue to store their equipment at The Sheds, the must stop. [More]

Landscaping Operation in Violation of IL EPA

by Holly Robinson October 23, 2009 2:46 PM
According to documents filed earlier this month by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Don Hamman Farms has some explaining to do.

As reported in October 23’s suburbanchicagonews.com, Don Hamman, owner and operator of Don Hamman Farms (a yard waste application operation in Kendall County’s Yorkville), denies allegations of violations against the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, including open dumping and conducting a waste storage operation without permits, among other claims. On Tuesday, October 13, Hammna’s attorneys from the firm Hinshaw & Culbertson requested “"strict proof" related to these complaints.

Madigan first filed a complaint in Kendall County court against Hamman's operation in September 2008. Then in May of 2009, Madigan filed a revised 4-count complaint against the landscape waste facility located on 2,300 acres of land on Route 71 in Oswego. [More]

Ohio Fire Station “Reinvented” As Storage

by Kim Kilpatrick October 22, 2009 3:05 PM
Trustees of Liberty Township (OH) decided Tuesday (October 20) to use the town’s original fire station as a temporary storage facility for both the Liberty Township Historical Society and Liberty Township Fire Association.

According to October 21’s cincinnati.com posting, there were 5 different options on the table, including simply selling the land on which the fire station sits, and using the structure as a police substation. However, each of those options would have required improvements to the current septic system, some roof work, and the upgrading utilities.

Trustee Christine Matacic said, “This is something temporary; we have equipment that needs to be protected to extend its life and if we use this (1953 fire station), all we’ll have to do is keep water and minimal heat until we can find a permanent solution.”

The new fire station, which sits on a 1.5-acre parcel at 5867 Princeton-Glendale Road, is necessary because the original one is no longer large enough to house newer equipment and lacks adequate facilities for firefighters who now staff the station 24/7. At 11,417-square feet, the single-story, masonry and brick building is triple the size of the original fire house, and should be complete by December 28 (weather permitting.) [More]
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