Monday, November 14, 2016

Infrastructure News (Mostly Missouri)

Safety Valves Required on Gas Connections

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which governs gas pipeline safety through its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, issue rules that require safety valves to be installed on all new or replacement gas service lines for apartments and small businesses. Excess flow valves automatically shut off the flow of gas when a line is ruptured, limiting the amount of gas that can escape, which will prevent or reduce the severity of fires.

Such valves have been required for new and replacement connections for single-family residences since 2009. The rule does not require existing connections to be retrofitted with the valve.

Tennessee Valley Authority Puts Unfinished Nuclear Plant on the Market

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is offering for sale its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant. TVA began construction of the plant, located near the northeast Alabama town of Hollywood, in the 1970s, but never completed it because regional power demand did not grow as anticipated.

TVA has set a minimum bid of $36.4 million for the plant and 1,600 acres of land along the Tennessee River. This is fraction of the $5 billion the authority has spent on the project. In addition to the unfinished nuclear reactors, the property includes power transmission lines, roads, and several buildings.

TVA cites economic development as a reason for the sale. It hopes industry will be attracted to the developed site and provide employment in the region.

Wind Farm to Start Operation in Missouri

Next Era Energy Resources is anticipating completing construction of a wind farm in rural DeKalb County, MO, in November. The facility will have 97 turbines and be capable of generating 200 MW. Kansas City Power and Light will purchase the energy. Find out more in this article from the St. Joseph News-Press.


Engineering Educators Elect First Black Woman President

The American Society for Engineering Education elected Bevlee Watfort as its president. She is the first black woman to hold the office. Her term will begin in June 2017. Watford is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

Missouri Testing Solar Sidewalk at Rest Stop

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) announced it will install sidewalk made of solar panels at its Route 66 Welcome Center. The sidewalk will cover a 12-foot by 20-foot area at the rest stop on Interstate 44 near Conway, MO.

The panels will be supplied by Solar Roadways of Sandpoint, ID. The solar panels and electronics are sandwiched between to ½-inch thick layers of tempered glass. MoDOT will test the materials for durability under various weather conditions. It will also test the suitability of the panel’s built-in LEDs as substitutes for road striping.

MoDOT does not expect to sell power from solar projects. It envisions that solar roadways may generate enough power to supply rest areas. The power generated by this project will be directed to the welcome center building.

Bill to Change Missouri Water Commission Overcomes Veto

The Missouri General Assembly overturned a veto by Governor Jay Nixon of a bill that could change the composition of the Missouri Clean Water Commission. The bill would change the composition of the commission, allowing agriculture and mining interests to have a larger representation. The commission has authority over rulemaking under the state clean water law. You can read more about this here.

Oklahoma Shuts Down Waste Wells in Light of Earthquake Threat

The September 3rd earthquake on a newly discovered fault near Pawnee, Oklahoma, has prompted state and federal officials to halt injection of oil and gas wastewater into 67 wells in the area. There is a growing scientific consensus that wastewater injection has contributed to recent earthquakes in the Oklahoma.

Wastewater produced from oil and gas extraction is disposed of by injecting it deep into the ground. Reducing the amount of wastewater that can be injects also reduces the amount of oil or gas that can be collected. The wastewater cannot readily be disposed of by other means.

The magnitude 5.8 quake was felt in neighboring states (Facebook friends of this contributor reported feeling it in St. Louis and the Missouri Bootheel). The U.S. Geologic Survey reports that it was felt as far away as Nevada and Florida.

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