Nuclear Power Plants have been retrofitted to cope with hurricanes and other natural disasters

Guest Author: John Cooper

Cooper is a cooling-tower thermal and hydraulic design engineer, with experience designing nuclear plant Ultimate Heat Sink cooling towers, used to cool reactors during shutdown.

[Editor’s note: ZipDialog is delighted to include this post. The opinions are those of the guest author. Readers are invited to respond, both here and on social media. At ZipDialog, we take dialog seriously.]

 Coping with Disasters such as Hurricanes is a Standard Design Feature for Nuclear Power Plants

Ultimate Heat Sink (UHS) tower designs–the kind I often work with–include heavy duty-steel missile grating that protects the cooling system from damage that could be caused by projectiles from tornadoes.

That hardening is a standard feature, one that has been upgraded significantly in recent years.

Since Fukushima, all nuclear plants in the US have been retrofitted with equipment and water storage reservoirs that ensure adequate cooling water and power in the event of a natural disaster.


Texas Reactor Worked Well during Hurricane Harvey

The nuclear power plant in southern Texas (South Texas Project) continued to operate when Harvey went over the site.


US Nuclear Regulation Commission is Prepared for Florida

 The NRC made clear it is prepared for the Hurricane Irma

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dispatched additional inspectors to the Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami and the St. Lucie nuclear plant on the east coast of Florida in advance of Hurricane Irma. The NRC expects to activate its regional incident response center in Atlanta, Ga., on Saturday as the agency prepares for the effects of the hurricane on those nuclear plants and other NRC-licensed facilities near the path of the storm. –official statement (link here)


Lessons from Earlier Hurricanes

 In 1992, a category 5 hurricane passed directly over a Florida nuclear plant without a disaster.

Ars Technica reports that the Turkey Point plant near Miami

didn’t become a major environmental disaster [during Hurricane Andrew in 1992] due to redundancy built in the reactor system that continuously provided electricity to cool the reactors in the aftermath of the storm.

That redundancy was hardened in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and then again in 2011 after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.


The opinions in this post are those of the guest author. He and ZipDialog welcome your response.

John Cooper is an expert on cooling tower systems for nuclear power plants and a Florida resident.

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, Sept. 10

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Everyone is awaiting the damage from Hurricane Irma as it moves up the Florida coast. 

The advance preparation seems well handled, especially because the eye of the hurricane drifted further west than initial forecasts.

Now we wait to see

1. The scale of the devastation and the breadth of storm
2. The help given in the immediate aftermath, and
3. The long-term recovery effort

Comment: Both short-term and long-term relief will have to be done in the presence of similar damage in Texas from Harvey.

Since we all criticize the government when things go badly, we need to praise them when things go well, as they have (so far) in these two storm-response efforts.

Half-right: NYT headline is “Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two-Party Rule

The reference is to Pres. Trump’s three-month deal with “Chuck and Nancy” (Schumer and Pelosi) to extend the US debt ceiling and provide relief funds for Hurricane Harvey. Republican lawmakers wanted a longer extension and are furious.

Comment: The headline is partly right when it says Trump is “bound to no party.” He is not bound to the R’s ideologically. But he is bound to them practically since the D’s don’t agree with him on most big issues, aside from infrastructure spending and trade protection.

Hillary, surprisingly, says she didn’t expect to lose. Ya think? Says the loss left her “gobsmacked” (Fox News)

Comment: The inauthenticity of that word–gobsmacked???–hints atone reason she lost.

Does anybody really think that would have been her genuine feeling? 

 Immigration: Harvard Law prof. Noah Feldman: “Trump’s Right: Immigration is Congress’s Mess” (Bloomberg)

Liberals should keep in mind an important constitutional principle: Immigration is supposed to be the province of Congress, not the executive. The belief that the president has ultimate immigration power can lead to terrible results — like Trump’s travel ban against six majority-Muslim countries, also powered by the mistaken idea that immigration policy should be set by executive order.

The Framers of the Constitution thought about immigration, and wanted Congress in charge. Article I, Section 8, which enumerates Congress’s authorities, confers the power “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” –Noah Feldman

Comment: Feldman is absolutely right. Trump’s threat to act if Congress does not is as lawless as Obama’s DACA action, which Obama himself had said would be unconstitutional before he did it anyway.

It is depressing to see people on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to get policy outcomes they desire that they ignore well-established constitutional safeguards.

Those safeguards are there for good reasons.

Media bias: National survey of senior cities shows a stunning 99.2% “believe the media wants President Trump to fail.” (Washington Examiner)

Comment: The media is reaping what it has sown–and sown for decades.

The only difference today is that, thanks to the WWW, there are sites to call them out on it.



ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 9

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Irma Exodus: 1.4 million ordered to leave homes, largest mandatory evacuation in US history (Daily Mail)

The winds are ferocious and the width of the storm is enormous, producing floods and wind damage across a huge swath, no matter where the eye hits.

The Florida Keys are particularly vulnerable. But they are hardly alone.

 When idiots blather….I seldom pay attention

So, you won’t see “news” about Jennifer Lawrence’s views on what causes hurricanes or Rep. Maxine Waters views on anything.

Stephen Colbert’s decision to give a Nazi salute to Pres. Trump on the Late Show (Daily Beast) is worth mentioning, though, because it shows how low our public discourse has sunk.

But you didn’t need additional proof of that.

 Human interest: 16-year old turns in high-school math assignment…which has an elegant new theorem and proof (From the Grapevine)

Tamar Barabi, an Israeli who loves dancing and paying popular music, came up with the “Three Radii Theorem”:

If three or more equal lines leave a single point and reach the boundary of a circle, the point is the center of the circle and the lines are its radii.” Believe it or not, that’s the simple explanation. To compose the actual theorem, Barabi had to write up three proofs, a series of conclusions and some sample exercises.–From the Grapevine


New York Times prints long essay on how awful the affluent are (New York Times)

The screed says it is aimed at the 1% but actually refers to New Yorkers whose incomes could not buy a modest two-bedroom in Manhattan.

Comment: It turns out that some of the really wealthy have nannies.

The op-ed stops just short of urging the guillotine.

NY Mayor Bill de Blasio says a big problem for him is “the way the legal system favors private property” (New York Mag)

Comment: Fortunately, if you donate to him, he can help.

More serious comment: There are two deeper points here

  1. The normalizing of socialist ideology in the American mainstream.
  2. The limits on government’s endless expansion posed by private property rights and related rights of voluntary contacting. That’s why FDR had to attack them to enact the New Deal, beginning a long-term trend. The banner is now carried by de Blasio, Bernie, and Eliz. Warren.

Lawsuit over 9/11 attacks moving forward against Saudi Arabian government. Plaintiffs claim they have evidence some attackers were part of a Saudi-government controlled network, which also funded a dry-run of the attack (New York Post)

This lawsuit can proceed because of an act of Congress. Normally, such suits against foreign governments would be prohibited.


Hat Tip to

Cheryl Brownstein for the story about the 16-year old math student

◆ Tom Elia for story about rich New Yorkers

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

The major bill

tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

“These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

 Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

 Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

[Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

 “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

“I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

 The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

 Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.



ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, April 12

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 We’re learning more about one possible connection between Russia and the Trump campaign  The Washington Post reports that last summer the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump adviser.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. …

Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said.–Washington Post

How involved was Carter Page in the campaign?

In March 2016, Trump identified Page, who had previously been an investment banker in Moscow, as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later described Page’s role as “informal.” –Washington Post

Comment: Reports are that Page’s connection to the campaign was at a lower level and that he never met Trump. We’ll soon learn more, I wager.

 Close call for Republicans for open Congressional seat in red-state Kansas Mike Pompeo held the seat until he became Trump’s CIA head. Ron Estes, the state’s treasurer, faced a surprisingly sharp challenge from a Democrat. Estes won, 53% to 46% in a district Trump won by 27 points. The New York Times story is here.

Comment: The race was seen as an early test for Trump. He passed, but just barely. 

Florida death-penalty dispute: Gov. takes death-penalty cases away from rogue state prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty. She sues him  (Miami Herald) Her legal claim: the governor overstepped his authority in removing the cases from her.

 United Airlines finally grovels and apologizes. Passenger lawyers up.  (Chicago Tribune)

Comment: The airlines initial reaction was to say the passenger was truculent.  The viral video killed them and they changed direction.

 Latinos in US: A “hidden force turbocharging the US economy,” says CNBC

It’s been nearly 10 years since this country was hit with a recession, the likes of which we hadn’t seen for decades. Businesses across the country were closing their doors and unemployment soared. This bleak situation was sharply magnified among Latinos, which reported a 66 percent drop in wealth and a 13 percent unemployment rate.

Yet during this bleak period, Latino entrepreneurs created new businesses at a startling rate, increasing from 2.3 million in 2007 to approximately 4.1 million today. –CNBC



Zika outbreak spreads to Miami Beach tourist spots

The Zika outbreak seems far way until . . . you meet a couple who came to Chicago to escape it. Met them as I walked our dog, Lola, and they explained the outbreak had hit their Miami neighborhood of South Beach. The husband and wife, in their 30s, came to Chicago to stay with their relatives in Hyde Park. I don’t know if it was for their own health or perhaps for an expected baby. In any case, scary.

Here’s the NPR report.