The Anonymous Widower

Piney Point: Emergency Crews Try To Plug Florida Toxic Wastewater Leak

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Emergency crews in Florida have been working to prevent a “catastrophic” flood after a leak was found in a large reservoir of toxic wastewater.

This Google Map shows the location.

Note.

  1. At the top of the map is an area called Tampa Bay Estuarine Ecosystem Rock Ponds.
  2. The reservoir appears to be in the South East corner of the map.
  3. There appear to be several chemical works to the West of the highway.

This second Google Map shows the reservoir at a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The picture in the BBC article was taken from the North West.
  2. The problem reservoir is right and above of centre.
  3. To its right is Lake Price, which appears to be the sort of lake to sail a boat and perhaps do a bit of fishing and swimming.
  4. Moore Lake to the South appears similar to Lake Price.

It looks to me that it is not the place to have an environmental incident.

This article in The Times says this.

Engineers are furiously pumping the phosphate-rich water into the sea to avoid an uncontrolled spill at Piney Point, whose failure could unleash a 20ft-high wall of toxic effluent.

Pumping it into the sea? Surely not?

I suspect there could have been a mixture of sloppy management and loose regulation, with minimal enforcement and I’ll be interested to see what recommendations are put forward by the inevitable investigation.

In my varied past, I was once indirectly involved, in the toxic waste that comes out of chemical plants. At the time, I was working for ICI in Runcorn and my main job was building designing and building instruments for the various chemical plants in and around Runcorn.

As they had hired me because of my programming skills, they asked me if I could do a few small jobs on their Ferranti Argus 500, which could be plugged in to both their Varian NMR machine and their AEI mass spectrometer.

With the former, to get better accuracy in analysis of chemicals, I would take successive scans of a sample and aggregate them together. The accuracy of the results would be proportion to the square root of the number of scans.

The second to my mind was more difficult and much more interesting.

This explanation of mass spectroscopy is from Wikipedia.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are typically presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.

ICI at Runcorn had a lot of complex mixtures and the aim of my project, was to take a mass spectrum and automatically decide what chemicals were present in the mixture.

The mass spectra were presented as a long graph on a roll of thermal paper. I noticed that operators would pick out distinctive patterns on the graph, which they told me were distinctive patterns of chlorine ions.

Chlorine has an unusual atomic weight of 35.5 because it is a mixture of two stable isotypes Chlorine-35 and Chlorine-37, which produced these distinctive patterns on the spectra.

I was able to identify these patterns to determine the number of chlorine atoms in a compound. By giving the algorithm a clue in stating how many carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms could be involved, it was able to successfully identify what was in a complex mixture.

All this was programmed on computer with just 64K words of memory and a half-megabyte hard disc.

ICI must have been pleased, as I got a bonus.

One of the jobs the software was used for was to identify what chemicals were present in the lagoons alongside the River Weaver, which are shown today in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The chemical works, which were part of ICI in the 1960s, to the North of the Weaver Navigation Canal.
  2. The two former lagoons between the canal and the River Weaver, which seem to have been cleaned out and partially restored.
  3. Was that a third large lagoon to the South of the River Weaver?
  4. There also appears to be a fourth smaller triangular lagoon between the canal and the river.

There certainly seems to have been a better clear-up in Runcorn, than in Florida.

I moved on from Runcorn soon after, I’d finished that software and have no idea how or if it developed and was used.

But the techniques I used stayed in my brain and were used at least four times in the future.

  • In the design of a Space Allocation Program for ICI Plastics Division.
  • In the design of two Project Management systems for Time Sharing Ltd.

And of course, they were also used in designing the scheduler in Artemis for Metier.

I

 

April 5, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Design, World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recycling In Islington

I took these pictures by the bus stop round the corner from my house.

It is often as bad as this and it is regularly cleaned up by the street cleaners.

There are people for whatever reason, put their rubbish by the litter and then the foxes sort through it looking for scraps of food.

Someone said on the radio, that it is caused by illegal sub-lets, as these tenants are told not to use the normal rubbish system, as it draws attention.

So their idea of recycling, is to get others to sort it!

March 16, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

UK Cruise Ships Scrapped In India’s ‘Ship Graveyard’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Two UK cruise ships have been scrapped on an Indian beach despite assurances they would continue to be operated.

The ships are the Marco Polo and the Magellan, whose owner went bust due to the pandemic.

After a couple of transactions, they will be heading to the ship-breaker at Alang in North-West India.

This Google Map shows the yard. Or beach!

What a mess!

It looks to me, that someone has been doing a bit of sleight of ship to get round UK regulations, which class ships at the end of their lives as hazardous waste and make it illegal to send them to developing countries.

 

 

March 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Alstom Calls For Hydrogen Rail Fleets In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2View.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Alstom has called for a £10bn investment programme in UK rail and mass transit systems, through which it would like fleets of clean, zero emission hydrogen trains to replace pouting diesel alternatives.

Titled: The UK’s New Green Age; A Step Change in Transport Decarbonisation, the report states that 300-400 hydrogen trains could be launched simply with a like for like replacement of diesels and would deliver huge environmental benefits.

The report was released after recent research revealed that the UK is lagging behind surrounding countries in comparable infrastructure. For example, France has over double the number of mass transit systems as the UK, whilst Germany has four.

There is a rapidly developing argument between the proposers of hydrogen and battery trains.

Consider.

  • Both types of train can ve a straight replacement for diesel trains, often with very little modification to stations.
  • As both hydrogen and battery trains have electric traction, they could have improved performance, so tracks and signalling might need upgrades to make full use of that performance to provide a better service for passengers.
  • Hydrogen trains will need a refuelling strategy.
  • Hydrogen trains need to carry a large tank of hydrogen.
  • Battery trains may well need charging systems or extra lengths of electrification for charging.
  • The UK will have plenty of green hydrogen and zero carbon electricity.

I also believe that hydrogen and battery trains designed from scratch will be much better than conversions of existing stock.

Conclusion

I think the environment will win this argument.

I can see cost and local circumstances deciding, whether to use battery or hydrogen trains.

For instance, Ipswich and Norwich, where there are an electrified main lines, might become battery train hubs, whereas Middlesbrough, where there is a plentiful supply of hydrogen, might use hydrogen trains for local services.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Restoring Your Railway Fund Could Provide A Toolkit For Town Transformation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business.

The article talks a lot of sense and is a must-read for improving a town, that is on its uppers.

It uses the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington in the North East as an example and describes how the fund can be used with the Towns Fund.

This paragraph gives a few examples of rail lines that could be improved using the fund!

Potential priorities for future rounds of funding could include the South Yorkshire Joint Line, a freight line serving 50 000 people between Doncaster and Worksop; the Leamside Line, a disused line which would serve 70 000 in Washington; March to Wisbech, a disused line which would connect 35 000 people in Wisbech to the network; and the line from Yate to Thornbury, another freight line which would connect 15 000 people in Thornbury to Bristol and beyond.

In the early sixties, I lived in the crap town of Felixstowe, with a sparse rail service to civilisation (London). Now the town has an hourly rail service to Ipswich in a smart new train and the town is more successful.

There’s a lot of chicken-and-egg syndrome at work here, but sorting the rail routes could be a good start.

In some cases, it’s not necessarily rebuilding infrastructure, as that is there for freight or an inadequate passenger service using a scrapyard special. But why not use refurbished trains powered by battery or hydrogen, on these routes to provide an hourly service. The curiosity value of the unusual propulsion, might even be a selling point to those reluctant to give up their PPVs, (Personal Protective Vehicles)!

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Coronavirus, What’s Next? China: More Coal, US: More Oil, EU: More Renewables

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on CleanTechnica.

The title says it all, but read the article to get the detail.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lancashire’s Eden Project Encouraged By Survey Results

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Lancashire Post.

Apparently, 99 % of those surveyed were in favour.

More can be found at edenproject.com/north.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Eco-Friendly Party Bag Wrapping

I usually do the party bags for Christmas Day and these pictures show how I wrap the goodies.

Note.

  1. The cotton drawstring bags come from The Clever Baggers.
  2. I found the little plastic pots called Mini Bites in Robert Dyas.
  3. The Mini Bites have a screw lid, which is easier to open than most packaging.

They have lots of reusable possibilities.

  • Last night, I found that the capacity of one Mini-Bite is ideal for frozen peas for one.
  • I keep shoes in the cotton bags.
  • I shall be using a Mini Bite to hold a selection of my daily pills.
  • As the pictures show, they hold a sensible portion of nuts, sweets or chocolate.
  • Are they a daily pack of forbidden foods, like chocolate and sweets?

We need more packaging ideas like these!

 

December 22, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Record Drop In Coal Use As Rich Nations Go Green

This is an article in today’s Times.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Eden Project Morecambe Now ‘Certain’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Westmoreland Gazette.

I’ve always liked the Eden Project Morecambe and can’t see why it will not be as big a success, as its Cornish sister.

  • It has good transport links.
  • It could be served by battery electric trams or trains from the West Coast Main Line.
  • It is within an two hours ,of the large population centres of Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and North Lancashire.
  • It is a complimentary attraction to the Lake District.

But above all, it catches the mood of today’s world.

November 10, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments