Indian Point remains shut before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point remains shut down a week later, unclear when reactors will be up and running

Indian Point totally shut down since Friday while workers address malfunction at Unit 2

THOMAS C. ZAMBITO | ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS | 2:31 pm EDT March 18, 2019

• Indian Point’s Unit 2 shut down Friday after a malfunction in an electric generator

• Unit 3 was already shutdown for its last refueling before it shuts down in 2021

• This is the first time in recent years that both reactors have been down at the same time

Indian Point has failed to generate power in three days, following a malfunction in one of the nuclear plant’s reactors Friday that forced a shutdown, the Journal News and lohud.com has learned.

Federal safety regulators say Unit 2’s unexpected shutdown was caused by a malfunction in an electric generator.

This is not the first time both reactors were without power at the same time but it is the first time in recent years.

The shutdown, also called a scram, occurred while Unit 2’s sister reactor, Unit 3, had already been powered down for its 20th and final refueling before it shuts off for good in April 2021.

State officials say the shutdowns have not impacted the state’s power supply.

Work to replace the fuel rods at Indian Point 3 as well as the replacement, refurbishment and testing of equipment is underway as part of routine maintenance of the nuclear reactor in Buchanan on Mar. 20, 2017.

RICKY FLORES/THE JOURNAL NEWS

Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, alerted the state Department of Public Service about the situation and the department is monitoring the issue.

“At this time, the Department does not have any concerns about the facility’s safety,” spokesman James Denn said. “There is also no impact on the reliability of New York’s power system.”

The reactors generate electricity for homes, businesses and public facilities in Westchester County and New York City

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s resident inspectors for Indian Point were summoned to Unit 2’s control room around 3 p.m., Friday, after being alerted that there had been a shutdown.

No immediate safety concerns were identified. Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, was trying to fix the problem Monday.

“Entergy is troubleshooting the exact cause of the scram, which may have been caused by a fault in the main electric generator,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “Our Resident Inspectors will continue to follow up on those assessments.”

Unit 3 was shut down twice in September following a water leak in a backup cooling system and a steam leak discovered on the non-nuclear side of the building. Entergy said neither leak led to a release of radiation and public safety was never threatened.

Unit 3 was shut down March 11 as workers began removing spent fuel so they could begin adding enough fuel to power the reactor through 2021.

Refuelings or outages take place every two years in March, a time of year when electricity demand is at its lowest, ahead of the summer months when air conditioners run around the clock.

Entergy invested $70 million in the effort, which brings some 900 out-of-state workers into the lower Hudson Valley for several weeks while they assist Entergy’s 1,000-person workforce at the Buchanan plant.

In addition to replacing fuel, workers will replace pumps and motors and perform maintenance on diesel generators.

In January 2017, Entergy announced its intention to close, citing market pressures caused by the low price of natural gas as well as protracted litigation with the state of New York.  Unit 2 will be shut down next year.

The shutdown is expected to have a lingering impact on Buchanan, the town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District, which rely heavily on the plant’s property tax revenues to balance their budgets from year to year.

Tony Vitale, an Entergy vice president and the company’s top-ranking executive at Indian Point, said the company continues to invest in plant safety and reliability.

“Our dedicated employees, whether they have worked at the site for four years or 40 years, are focused on making the last refueling our best ever,” Vitale said. “The nearly 60-year history of safe and reliable operations at the site is our legacy.”

A Lack Of Vigilance Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

Faults Underlying Exercise Vigilant Guard

Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment

Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009

This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults.

The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said.

“In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said.

This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday.

Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director.

“A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault.

Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added.

Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage.

“It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi.

The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added.

“You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said.

Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents.

Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.”

“I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said.

Training concluded Thursday.

Israeli Jets Hit Targets Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Ruth Eglash

Reporter covering Israel and the Palestinian territories

March 25 at 11:14 AM

 

JERUSALEM — Israeli military jets began striking targets in the Gaza strip Monday in response to earlier rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave that hit a family house near Tel Aviv, injuring seven Israelis and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Washington.

The Israeli leader, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, announced he will return to Israel immediately after meeting with President Trump at the White House Monday morning.

“This was a criminal attack on the State of Israel, and we will respond with force,” said Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, in a short video clip from Washington. He said he had been briefed by the heads of Israeli security and that he would return to conduct Israel’s response.

Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a fierce battle for reelection with Israelis going to the polls in less than 15 days, was also scheduled to give a keynote address at the annual AIPAC policy forum conference Tuesday morning and participate in a celebratory state dinner with Trump at the White House Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main rival in the April 9 national election, did take center stage at AIPAC. The former military chief of staff introduced himself Monday morning to a U.S. audience, delivering a speech that both commended the prime minister for deciding to return home to deal with the security escalation and calling for unity.

“If we want hope, we must have unity; if we want security, we must have unity; Throughout history the only way we have won is by being united! Unity is our past, and unity must be our future!,” he told a welcoming crowd.

In Israel, the military announced it was reinforcing troops in the area with two additional brigades, one infantry and one armored, and calling up “a limited number” of reservists for specialist units. It said Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, was directly responsible for firing the rocket.

Later the army announced it was blocking all routes adjacent to the security fence with Gaza and called on farmers in the area to stop their work.

Images from the scene of the rocket strike showed the house which was badly damaged, its roof caved in. Mika Lifshitz, a military spokeswoman, said it was hit by a self-manufactured rocket with a range of around 75 miles. She said Israel’s antimissile protection system, the Iron Dome, protects the area, but could not comment on whether it was deployed.

Robert Wolf told reporters if his family had not gone into a bomb shelter in time, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, daughter and two young grandchildren would have surely been killed in the blast that destroyed their home.

“This is the real price, and I just paid it,” he said. “I nearly lost my family. If we hadn’t got to bomb shelter in time then I would be burying my entire family.”

Paramedic Assi Dvilanski, who was one of the first responders to arrive on the scene, said the family house was fully destroyed, with its roof completely blown away.

“It’s a miracle that no one got killed,” he said. He described treating family members at the scene for burns and injuries consistent with explosions before transferring them to a hospital.

Reuven Hazan, professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the rocket attack and an escalation in tensions with Hamas could be damaging to Netanyhu politically.

“Unlike in previous elections, this is the first time Netanyahu is facing a party that is led by people who are more prominent than him on security issues,” Hazan said. Two of the other top leaders in Gantz’s Blue and White party are former military chief of staffs.

“When it comes to diplomatic relations, no one can beat Netanyahu,” said Hazan. “He came to Washington because he wanted to focus on his status of almost being on par with the leader of the free world, who this week gave him a foreign policy bonus of the Golan Heights announcement, but now he is not staying like Benny Gantz, and he realizes that this security situation could go either way.”

Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a former deputy director at the National Security Council, said Netanyahu faces a “delicate challenge.”

“When there was intensive rocket fire on the southern area that borders Gaza, Israel found a workable modus vivendi, involving transfer of Qatari money to Hamas, if Netanyahu now reacts aggressively, then people will say the blood of those in the center of the country is thicker than in the south. If he does not respond, then he’ll be criticized for not doing anything in the face of brazen provocation,” he said.

Netanyahu has been criticized by members of his own government coalition for being too soft on Hamas. In November, he agreed to a mediated cease-fire with the group after a spate of rocket attacks from Gaza toward communities in southern Israel. His political opponents have also criticized Netanyahu’s decision to allow Qatar to deliver $15 million a month into Gaza to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants.

Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad immediately claimed responsibility for launching the rocket, though a Hamas official told the group’s al-Aqsa television station the rocket was fired as a result of “natural factors.” It was unclear what factors he was referring to.

One anonymous Hamas official told news agency AFP it could possibly have been caused by “bad weather.”

In Gaza, the factions were bracing for a harsh response from Israel. A joint statement from Gaza’s resistance movements said Monday “any possible Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip would be met by an immediate response.”

Tensions in the impoverished strip have been high in recent weeks as residents have taken to protesting extreme poverty, and Hamas has been criticized for heavy-handed tactics in cracking down on the unrest. Gaza has faced a sea, land and air blockade by Israel for more than a decade, and Egypt, which is its neighbor to the south, has also sporadically imposed such restrictions.

Saturday marks one year of weekly deadly protests by Gaza residents at the border fence with Israel. Dubbed the Great March of Return, the protests were initially intended to help win international recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes, which sit within Israeli territory and ease restrictions on the Strip.

Hamas had used the march as a tool to ramp up pressure on Israel amid stalled cease-fire talks brokered by Egypt and the United Nations that would have allowed more investment in Gaza. In recent days, it has sent flaming balloons into Israel, according to the Israeli military. The group had agreed to stop such actions under an interim deal that allowed Qatari money into the enclave, which expires in weeks.

But domestic pressure has been building against Hamas, and analysts say the strain increases the need for the militants to deflect attention back toward Israel. In recent weeks, protests against the dire living conditions in the Strip have been suppressed by the group, whose security forces have used batons and live ammunition to break up demonstrations.

Roughly 75 percent of Gazans are registered by the United Nations as refugees, descendants of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948. Many still live in one of Gaza’s eight refugee camps, according to a U.N. assessment.

A recent U.N. report found that some 189 Gazans were killed by Israeli forces during 2018. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry criticized Israel’s rules of engagement in dealing with the protesters and said the majority of the Palestinians killed “did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot.”

Israel has said the protests, which are ongoing, are particularly violent and could act as a cover for Hamas to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.

Although rocket launches from Gaza are not unusual, Monday’s rocket strike was the second time this month to target the major city of Tel Aviv. Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day conflict in the summer of 2014.

Earlier this month, following reports of two rockets fired toward Tel Aviv from Gaza, the Israeli military responded by striking more than 100 targets in the coastal Palestinian enclave.

No injuries or damage to properties were reported on March 14 when the two rockets hit near Tel Aviv, but rocket sirens were activated, sending thousands of Israelis in the most populous part of the country into bomb shelters.

In a follow-up assessment, the Israeli military said it believed Hamas was responsible, and Israeli media reported later that the Army’s initial assessment was that the group launched the rockets by mistake.

Morris reported from Washington.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.

MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

How the Beast from the Sea Lied to US

Iraq: How we were lied into war

Eric S. Margolis /24 Mar 2019 / 19:15 H.

SIXTEEN years ago, the US and Britain committed a crime of historic proportion, the invasion and destruction of Iraq. It was as egregious an aggression as Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.

Large numbers of Iraqi civilians died from 2003 to 2007. Iraq’s water and sewage systems were bombed, causing widespread cholera. The UN estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result. Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state, said it was “a price worth paying”.

But not so much for the 4,424 US soldiers killed in Iraq, or the 31,952 wounded, many with devastating brain and neurological injuries. Nor for US taxpayers who forked out over US$1 trillion for this botched war and are still paying the bill hidden in the national debt.

In 2003, Iraq was the most advanced Arab nation in social welfare, health, education, military power, and industrial development. But it was run by a megalomaniac, Saddam Hussein, who had been helped into power and sustained in his long war against Iran, by the US, Britain and their Arab satraps.

When Saddam grew too big for his britches, Washington lured him into invading Kuwait, another American-British oil satrapy. A hue and cry went out from Washington and London that Iraq had secret nuclear weapons that threatened the world. War, thundered US-British propaganda, was urgent and necessary.

As I knew from covering Iraq for many years, it had no nuclear weapons and no medium or long-range delivery systems. What it did have was a laboratory at Salman Pak staffed with British technicians producing lethal toxins for use against Iran. I discovered this secret operation and reported it. Meanwhile, the Iraqis were threatening to hang me as an Israeli spy.

I watched with disgust and dismay as the US and Britain launched massive broadsides of lies against Iraq and those few, like myself, who insisted Baghdad had no nuclear weapons.

Almost the entire US and British media were compelled to act as mouthpieces for the George Bush/Tony Blair war against Iraq, trumpeting egregious lies designed to whip up war fever. US media, supposedly the tribune of democracy, became lie factories, putting even the old Soviet media to shame.

The New York Times led the charge, along with the three main TV networks. I was in Iraq with its star correspondent, Judith Miller, who became a key agent of the pro-war campaign. So too the Murdoch press in Britain and Fox News. When the BBC tried to question the torrent of lies about Iraq, it was crushed by Tony Blair. A leading British nuclear expert who questioned the nuclear lies was murdered. Iraq was polluted by US depleted uranium shells.

Journalists like me were intimidated or marginalised. I was dropped by a leading US newspaper, a major Canadian TV chain, and by CNN for whom I had been a regular commentator. I was told the Bush White House had given orders, “get rid of Margolis”. My sin: insisting Iraq had no nuclear weapons and was not threatening the US. Things became so absurd that the story went out that Saddam had “drones of death” that were poised to attack America.

Of the US media, only the McClatchy chain and Christian Science Monitor reported the war honestly. Nearly all the rest of America’s TV talking heads brayed for war. Most are still there today, demanding war against Iran.

Who was behind the war? A combination of big oil, which wanted Iraq’s vast reserves, and the Israel lobby, which wanted to see Iraq destroyed by US power. The Pentagon was taken over by pro-war neoconservatives: Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld.

George Bush, an ignorant fool, was putty in the hands of vice-president Dick Cheney, a pro-war megalomaniac. The CIA played along. Even the respected former general, Colin Powell, made a fool of himself before the UN by claiming Iraq had hidden weapons. It had chemical weapons, all right, but we had the receipts to show they came from the US and Britain.

No one in the US or Britain ever faced trial for war-mongering and killing vast numbers of people. The lying media escaped well-deserved censure. As for the lying politicians who brought on this disaster, they blamed poor intelligence and bad luck. Those few who opposed the war of aggression remain sidelined or silenced.

Eric S. Margolis is a syndicated columnist. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com