Friday, January 20, 2006

Polar Bears and Poltroons

Danger Zones - via Pope Emperor
America's Next Top Disasters
3. Indian Point Meltdown
7. Landslide at Mount Rainier
10. Rupture in the Alaska Oil Pipeline

Rupture in the Alaska Oil Pipeline
The Alaska pipeline was built to withstand everything its designers could think of. But the supports for the pipeline are anchored in permafrost, which is now melting. Up to a third of the uprights are out of alignment, and more will be at risk if the thaw continues. A pipeline break would jeopardize 850,000 barrels of oil per day - 11 percent of the nation's capacity.

Fairbanks, Alaska (Reuteres)
- Erasmus Plink is a Polar Bear. And he is worried about his future. His bluff face, once white, is now yellow and patches of hair fall from his ursine bulk. Stirring a coke, he gestures disgustedly towards a patch of grass on this unseasonably warm Spring day in Alaska.

"Ice, where is the Ice?" he asks, rhetorically. Then he sniffs sadly, adding "There is no money in Ice anymore, and I got to make a living. I've got bearlings. The Department of Homeland Security hired a bunch of us to shore up the pipeline with sandbags." Red rimmed eyes squinting with anger, Erasmus's voice lowered to a growl. "Now they won't let me travel home to my family over the Arctic Circle -- I'm on the no-fly list!"

The plight of Bear Plink is an increasingly common one. Locals were initially frightened as Bears began showing up in westernized cities around Alaska, looking for work as the Ice depleted. The Department of Homeland Security stepped in at the behest of Senator Ted Stevens, and put the illegal bears to work. Many, lacking citizenship or even green cards, signed on to shore up collapsing oil infrastructure out of sheer desperation.

Now, some Bears claim they are forgotten, little more than indentured servants. Lacking icebergs to rest on, the swim home is too dangerous for many Bears. Reuteres contacted a low level bureaucrat with Homeland Security, Laura Callahan, to ask her about the status of Erasmus Plink.

"I'm not really authorized to tell you how Mr. Plink was placed on the list, sir," she explained blandly, after taking down Erasmus's social security and Alaskan driver's license numbers.
"All I can tell you is that there is something in his background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for."

Left unexplained by Dr. Callahan is how a middle aged Polar Bear, whose previous criminal record was limited (at the age of fourteen) to swiping seals off of Muklukeks Used Mammals lot and eating them, can be tied to Middle East hominid terrorists of the genus "Homo Sapiens."

"It's a mystery, innit," Erasmus said, after I related Callahan's comments to him. Then he added, "Maybe we're just too valuable to set free, keeping the pipeline straight. You know, we get paid in fish 'cause we're too sick and exhausted to unionize. Imagine what you'd pay People for work like this."

Before shambling off to lay sandbags, his coke drained, Erasmus fixed me with a rheumy stare and rumbled one final thought:

"One day, we shall tear all of this down...if we live."


At 4:40 AM, January 23, 2006, Blogger JS_VP said...

Forget the Indian Point thing,
It's total Urban Myth,
Not Gonna happen.

One disaster you missed
one that IS gonna happen
is The Bronx Canyon Tsunami


That's right...
The Bronx Canyon Tsunami !!

South of the Kensico dam,
there is no flat open plain
to absorb and disperse
any flood resulting from a dam failure.
Instead the dam sits
at the head of the narrow, focused canyon
of the Bronx River, stretching South from the dam,
and running through the most highly populated section
of the most highly populated region in America.
As residents know,
out of this canyon there is truly no escape.
All East to West roads in this area are small, twisting
stoplight-ridden vestiges of old colonial paths.
The only good roads run North to South - exactly the path of the water.

The water surface
in the Kensico reservoir stands 355 feet above sea level.
The dam stretches
between two 400 ft hills,
168 feet above the
ground surface
in the Kensico dam plaza.
Therefore the huge wall of water
leaving the dam
will be 100+ feet high.
(the asian tsunami
was 6 feet high)
Immediately South of the plaza,
two more 400 foot hills
contain this water,
hemming it in at a 250' elevation,
forcing it South to the North White Plains Train Yard,
where it will pick up Metro North Railcars-up to 200 of them,
and send them sailing like 80 ton surfboards.
These objects, and the 100'+ high wall of water will smash into the abutments
of the elevated Cross-Westchester Expressway, turning it over, killing hundreds,
and in addition closing a major arterial route from New England to the West.
Leaping over the fallen Expressway the mighty torrent will bear its
load of railcars, 18 wheel truck bodies, propane tank trucks & passenger cars
on again towards White Plains Proper. At The White Plains Train Station
the ground elevation is about 200' above sea level, so the water is dropping
fast, and accellerating.
At this point the Bronx River Canyon turns abruptly to the Southwest,
and the crest, with its load of giant floating debris will resist the turn,
and overtop the channel,destroying both the Westchester County Center Building,
and the White Plains Train Station.
South of the station, below the brow of Battle Hill is the famous hairpin turn
on the Bronx River Parkway. Below this elevated span,
the valley narrows and steepens. This will have the effect of
accellerating the stream into a monstrous White Water rapid
which will follow the old Bronx River Aqueduct South,
uprooting the Hartsdale Train Station, and Barrelling into Garth Woods,
turning its 150 year old trees into deadly missiles.
It will roar into Scarsdale Station,the Garth Woods Apartment Houses
and Our Lady of Fatima Church at about 300 miles per hour,easily sweeping them away.
At Crestwood, the historic Asbury church sits directly over
the abandoned Bronx River Aqueduct, and so after surviving 200+ years,
would finally disappear in the flood.
The land surface at this point is 120 feet above sea level,
so once again the water is barrelling downhill, and picking up speed.
At Tuckahoe, the channel narrows radically in the old
Burroughs Wellcome Factory Sluiceway, and at this point, unfortunately,
a condominium sits hard by the stream ,
as does the Headquarters of the Hudson Valley bank.
These buildings will be overtopped by the constrained fury of the
narrowly channeled deluge, and will disintegrate, and head South.
The Tuckahoe train station and town hall will be screened by the
old factory buildings, but will be inundated up to the 200 foot elevation,
drowning everyone in the town to a radius of 10 blocks.
Now comes a uniquely tragic episode.
The mighty deluge, roaring southward at 300 miles an hour will enter Bronxville,
and totally annihilate the Lawrence Hospital Complex, which sits in fact,
directly on the Bronx River. None will survive. Patients, doctors,
the elderly, the embattled nursing staff, xray machines , operating rooms,
and 100 years of medical records will be turned into sludge,
joining the rapidly solidifying debris field.
(a watery debris field does not disperse as it goes, like a smoke plume.
a watery debris field solidifies, and bears its contents downstream
like a battering ram.)
Racing through Fleetwood and MountVernon in the tightly channeled
Bronx River Parkway cut, between tall constraining concrete walls,
the flood will topple the 60 year old Cross County Parkway overpass,
which is some 80 feet high.It will fall spectacularly to the South,
its rotten,spalling concrete legs long in need of repair, but never getting it,
terrified motorists able to watch the sickening arc of its fall
in their last pitiful moments of life.
At Wakefield in the Bronx, the tsunami will careen mightily into
Misericordia Hospital on the East , and Woodlawn Cemetary on the West,
ironically joining the newly dying with the long dead, for their last
bit of camaraderie,on a 400 mile per hour slalom to the North River.
Misericordia's xray machines will join Lawrence's xray machines,
the Metro North railcars, the propane tankers, 18 wheelers & soccer moms
as pathetic bits of dredge, shredding against the uprooted trees
from Garth Woods,
turning into a roaring, bloody, muddy stinking sludge of death.
The death-sludge, now careening forward at an incredible 400 miles per hour,
roaring like a thousand freight trains will slam into Fordham University,
and the Bronx Zoo, in a fraction of a second wiping out a hundred years
of science and scholarship, and propelling scholars, wild beasts,
and the death-sludge hard against the Cross Bronx Expressway.
This is solidly built, and will not overturn.
Instead the water and all its contents will rise in a mighty wall of water,
overtopping the road,and spreading out in all directions
into the narrow streets of the South Bronx,killing tens of thousands in a few minutes.
Finally, in the Swampy Flats between Clason Point and Hunt's Point,
the torrent will lay out its creation for all to see- a railcar here,
an elderly victim there, an 18-wheeler almost hidden in 7 feet of undiggable,
irremedial life-sludge become death-sludge.
Gone will be two major hospitals, 3 major east-west arterials,
most water into New York City, all rail traffic on the harlem line,
which probably will be declared unrepairable and abandoned,
all use of the Bronx River Parkway,
whose pavement will have been torn out in half mile chunks
and buried under yards of Mount St Helens type mud,
all further use of the IRT subway,
whose tranformer yards and switch houses will now lie in the North River,
and up to 3 million dead.
But they won't matter.
Why won't they matter?
They won't matter because they dont live in Bedford
and they don't have Robert F Kennedy Jr pleading to save them,
and because Andrew Spano thinks they should "Just Float Away".
In point of fact,
Spano is hiding just why he refuses to consider such an event.
You see, the City of New York owns the dam, not Westchester County,
so Spano has no budget for this disaster.
So therefore it cannot happen.
When Spano answered Monique Rahaman at his "Regional Security Teach-in",
telling her that dam failure was, in his words, "Not too likely", he was
unaware that over 200 major dam failures had occurred in the twentieth
century, making the likelihood of a dam failure a 100% certainty,
once every six months on average, for a over a hundred years.
A major hurricane happens once every 30 years.
A world war happens twice in a century.
A space shuttle is lost once every 15 years,
but a dam fails once every six months, on average.
And that is without considering malicious intent.
Have many people been killed in dam collapses?
A: More than 1,350,000 people have been swept to their deaths by the roughly 200 dams outside China which have collapsed or been overtopped during the 20th century. Two large dams which burst when a massive typhoon hit the Chinese province of Henan in August 1975 left an estimated 80,000 to 230,000 dead. This disaster was kept secret by the Chinese government and was only revealed to the outside world in 1995. People have also died in earthquakes caused by the great weight of water in large reservoirs. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused by Koyna Dam in India in 1967 killed around 180 people.

The following sites catalog dam disasters

The Army Topo Engineering Center lists Kensico Dam _________
NID No NY00051, 168 ft high______________
as a Category 1 or "High Hazard" dam_____________

You may check this youself at:

Points of Contact:
Technical Assistance:
U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center
CEERD-TR-A, ATTN: National Inventory of Dams
7701 Telegraph Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22315
General Dam Information:
Association of State Dam Safety Officials
450 Old Vine Street, 2nd Floor
Lexington, KY 40507

At 4:54 PM, January 23, 2006, Blogger UNplanner said...

The mount Ranier slide or Lahar, the geological term for it can be kicked off even without an eruption. Subtle shifts in the mountain slope could be enough to start one. A discovery channel show on this also pointed out that they occur every few hundred years and that Tacoma is built on the remnants of an ancient one.

Ranier is definately overdue for a Lahar, whether or not the mountain actually errupts.


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