Massive Hanford Test Reactor removed in Washington State


1 February 2013 – Richland, Washington, USA – Hanford’s River Corridor contractor, Washington Closure Hanford, met a significant cleanup challenge in late January on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site by removing a 1,082-ton nuclear test reactor from the 300 Area.  The River Corridor is a 220-square-mile section of land bordering the Columbia River and is DOE’s largest environmental cleanup closure project. The 300 Area is located about a mile north of Richland and a quarter-mile from the Columbia River. It was home to Hanford’s research, development and fuel fabrication activities for nearly 60 years.

140201-pmwj20-massive-IMAGE“Removing the reactor was one of the most complex and hazardous projects Washington Closure has faced since beginning work on the Columbia River corridor in 2005,” said Scott Sax, Washington Closure president. “It took months of detailed planning and extensive preparatory work to reach the point where the reactor could be removed. This achievement was made possible because of our highly skilled workforce committed to completing this job safely to protect the Columbia River.”

The Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor was the largest of Hanford’s experimental reactors used for developing and testing alternative fuels for the commercial nuclear power industry. The reactor operated from 1960 to 1969 and was housed underground beneath the 309 Building’s dome structure. Washington Closure removed the 67-ton dome in early 2011 and its associated 100-foot-tall exhaust stack in 2010.

“Despite challenges, the progress being made to clean up Hanford’s River Corridor is significant – and the removal of this test reactor is another visible sign of cleanup progress near the Columbia River. The move clears the way for future industrial use of this land,” said Matt McCormick, manager of the DOE Richland Operations Office.

The reactor’s transport weight is 1,538 tons. It will be secured and packaged on a high-payload-capable Goldhofer trailer and transported for disposal at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, Hanford’s onsite landfill for low-level mixed waste.

Washington Closure is a limited liability company led by URS and its partners Bechtel National and CH2M Hill. Through December 2013, Washington Closure is 90 percent complete with its contract, having demolished 296 of 321 buildings, cleaned up 465 of 591 waste sites, placed two nuclear reactors in interim safe storage, and disposed of 9.5 million tons of contaminated material in the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility. More about the Hanford River Corridor Closure project can be found at http://www.washingtonclosure.com/.

Source: US Department of Energy

International Financial Institutions Commit Billions to Eastern and Central Europe


13 October 2013 – London – The European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have announced during the World Bank / International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings that they are well on their way to meeting targets for investment to stimulate economic growth in Central and South Eastern Europe.  According to the three institutions, this is making a difference for entrepreneurs, exporters, and small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs), and serves as a signal to financial markets that international financial institutions (IFIs) are leaning forward to help these countries face the challenges set off by the crisis.

131013-PMWj16-ifis-IMAGEThe three IFIs launched their ‘Joint IFI Action Plan for Growth Central and South Eastern Europe’ in November 2012, pledging to invest a total of €30 billion in the region over the two years 2013/14. According to their new First Report on the Joint IFI Action Plan for Growth in Central and South Eastern Europe, by the end of July 2013, the three IFIs had already made €16 billion available in new lending. Results of the joint efforts have been encouraging, a reflection of the determination to share priorities and to cooperate closely on projects and initiatives.

The funding package was delivered in the context of the “Vienna Initiative”, the platform for coordination, which was launched at the height of the global economic crisis in 2008/09, and which successfully retained the engagement of international banks in emerging Europe.

So far under the 2013/14 Action Plan, the EIB has provided €10.5 billion out of a total commitment of €20 billion, the World Bank has provided €3.1 billion from its total of €6 billion and the EBRD has delivered €2.5 billion, against a commitment of €4 billion.

Werner Hoyer, the President of the EIB, commented: “The EIB is strongly committed to support sustainable growth in Central and South Eastern European Countries, by providing them with continued access to finance in the current challenging economic environment and by constantly developing its range of more targeted products. Our goal is to keep momentum to sustain the convergence process, also counteracting the effects of the crisis and the negative spillovers arising from the disintegration of the Euro area financial sector.”

Laura Tuck, Vice President for the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region, emphasized: “For the World Bank Group, by teaming up, we aim to support economic recovery and growth in Central and South Eastern Europe.  Economic growth is crucial in the World Bank Group’s two goals: ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. I am delighted with the cooperation between our three institutions, which has strengthened our combined ability to advise clients in the region.  In fact, it is fair to say that the result of our joint action is greater than the sum of what our separate efforts would have achieved.”

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “The EBRD is fully committed to continuing this important joint initiative – providing credit, especially to small- and medium-sized enterprises, to support the recovery and helping to forge policies that will pave the way for more sustainable growth and jobs in the future.  Reforms are crucial to keep the region attractive to investors in the global marketplace.”

Looking forward, the IFIs will aim to keep up the momentum into 2014 and maintain their strong focus on supporting the still-fragile recovery and helping to pave the way for more sustainable future growth in the region.  In particular, the three IFIs will make sure that small- and medium-sized enterprises will have access to credit. They will also provide financing for infrastructure, energy investments, and structural reforms to make Central and South Eastern Europe more competitive.

For more details, please see the First Report on the Joint IFI Action Plan for Growth in Central and South Eastern Europe.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), established in 1991 to nurture the private sector in Central and Eastern Europe and throughout Central Asia, uses investment to help build market economies and democracies. The EBRD is the largest single investor in the region and mobilizes significant foreign direct investment beyond its own financing. Owned by 61 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, the EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries and businesses.  The EBRD invested €8.7 billion in 388 individual projects in 2012.  For more information about the bank, visit http://www.ebrd.com/index.htm

Source: EBRD

EBRD Showcases Project Investments to Commemorate Croatia’s EU membership on 1 July 2013


7 July 2013 – London, UK – In honor of Croatia’s entrée into the European Union on 1 July, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has issued a number of articles and news releases in support of the country and describing various projects there that have benefited from bank involvement.   The total number of projects in Croatia that the EBRD has invested in to date is 152 with a net business volume of €2.77 billion and total value of €7.4 billion.


This year the bank expects to invest €230 million in Croatia (compared to €210 million in 2012) and is focussing on SMEs, supporting the absorption of EU Structural Funds and the development of infrastructure and municipalities.

Below are some notable EBRD projects in Croatia and the impact they have had.

  1. Piramida is the leading producer of ampoules and vials for the pharma industry. EBRD provided a loan of €3.6m signed in April 2013 for balance sheet restructuring and new capital expenditure for capacity increase. The company’s sales were € 8.8m in 2012 and expected to reach €10.2m in 2013, with approximately 90% sales from exports. Piramida holds key pharmaceutical certifications for glass packaging (including ISO 15378:2006), runs on SAP and remains frequently audited by customers.
  2. Pelet Grupa is a private company set up to construct a cogeneration biomass power plant in Novska, with a production capacity of 1MW of electricity and 4MW of heat and wood pellet production. This is a greenfield investment, of a kind currently rare in Croatia. The power plant will be fuelled by forestry biomass and wood industry waste. The total project costs of both the power plant and pellet production amount to €8.9m out of which €3.7m was provided by the EBRD – under the WeBSEDFF, which will be used for financing of equipment for the power plant.
  3. In May 2009 the Bank signed an agreement to provide a €70 million senior corporate loan to Plinacro, a 100 % state-owned Croatian gas transmission operator. Plinacro manages the gas transportation network from the border of Croatia to the local gas distributors and big industrial end consumers. It owns and operates almost 2,600 km of regional and trunk pipelines and transports approximately 3.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas per annum.  Gas storage capacity is of strategic importance for the Republic of Croatia and is essential for achieving gas supply stability, especially during periods of peak consumption in winter.
  4. ABS Sisak d.o.o. is a limited liability company established in Croatia, 99% owned by Danieli & C. Officine Meccanice SPA and 1% by Acciaierie Bertoli Safau S.p.A, Danieli steel-making division.The EBRD made a €20 million senior loan to the company. This will finance the refurbishment of the existing production facilities and implementation of the new equipment to develop and restructure the plant into an engineering steel-making facility with a capacity of up to 400k tons of steel per annum. ABS Sisak will produce high quality billets and blooms with a length of up to 12m and diameter of up to 400mm.  The total project value is €60 million.
  5. Atlantic Grupa is one of the biggest regional food producers in South Eastern Europe. EBRD’s cooperation with it started in 2010 with the acquisition of Droga Kolinska, one of the leading regional food and beverage producers in ex-Yugoslavia. EBRD supported the acquisition through provision of an equity investment via a capital increase on the Zagreb Stock Exchange and a mezzanine loan.  In 2012, the EBRD arranged a €307m financing package for Atlantic Grupa. The package – the biggest syndicated deal in the regional corporate sector in 2012 –supported a strong regional corporation at times when the region was still recovering from crisis. The financing is enabling the Group to introduce energy management systems, sustainability certifications and strengthen its balance sheet through replacement of existing acquisition debt and working capital financing.
  6. A member of Intesa Sanpaolo Group, Privredna Banka Zagreb is the second largest bank in Croatia, providing a diverse range of banking services to corporate and retail customers through its extensive branch network. EBRD has supported the bank repeatedly, most recently with a €20m SME credit line under the Private Sector Support Facility in 2011.
  7. EBRD has supported Agrokor, a leading agribusiness company in Croatia and South Eastern Europe, for many years and remains committed to strengthen its further development. Agrokor is active in the production, distribution and retail of food and drinks and today is the largest private company in Croatia.

For more information about EBRD projects in Croatia, go to http://www.ebrd.com/pages/country/croatia.shtml

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), established in 1991 to nurture the private sector in central and eastern Europe and throughout Central Asia, uses investment to help build market economies and democracies. The EBRD is the largest single investor in the region and mobilizes significant foreign direct investment beyond its own financing. Owned by 61 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, the EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries and businesses.  The EBRD invested €8.7 billion in 388 individual projects in 2012.  For more information about the bank, visit http://www.ebrd.com/index.htm

Source: EBRD

NASA’s Webb Telescope Project achieves critical mileston


16 June 2013 – Washington, DC, USA – NASA has announced that assembly of the backbone of the James Webb Space Telescope, the primary mirror backplane support structure, is a step closer to completion with the recent addition of the backplane support frame, a fixture that will be used to connect all the pieces of the telescope together.

The backplane support frame will bring together Webb’s center section and wings, secondary mirror support structure, aft optics system and integrated science instrument module. ATK of Magna, Utah, finished fabrication under the direction of the observatory’s builder, Northrop Grumman Corp.

nasa-webb-telescope-projectThe backplane support frame also will keep the light path aligned inside the telescope during science observations. Measuring 11.5 feet by 9.1 feet by 23.6 feet and weighing 1,102 pounds, it is the final segment needed to complete the primary mirror backplane support structure. This structure will support the observatory’s weight during its launch from Earth and hold its18-piece, 21-foot-diameter primary mirror nearly motionless while Webb peers into deep space.

ATK has begun final integration of the backplane support frame to the backplane center section, which it completed in April 2012 and two backplane wing assemblies, which it completed in March.

“Fabricating and assembling the backplane support frame of this size and stability is a significant technological step as it is one of the largest cryogenic composite structures ever built,” said Lee Feinberg, James Webb Space Telescope optical telescope element manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The primary mirror backplane support structure consists of more than 10,000 parts, all designed, engineered and built by ATK. The support structure will measure about 24 feet tall, 19.5 feet wide and more than 11 feet deep when fully deployed, but weigh only 2,138 pounds with the wing assemblies, center section and backplane support frame attached. When the mission payload and instruments are installed, the fully populated support structure will support more than 7,300 pounds, more than three times its own weight.

The primary mirror backplane support structure also will meet unprecedented thermal stability requirements to minimize heat distortion. While the telescope is operating at a range of extremely cold temperatures, from minus 406 degrees to minus 343 degrees Fahrenheit, the backplane must not vary more than 38 nanometers (approximately 1 one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair).

“The ATK team is providing program hardware that is arguably the largest and most advanced cryogenic structure ever built,” said Bob Hellekson, ATK’s Webb telescope program manager.

The assembled primary backplane support structure and backplane support frame are scheduled for delivery to Marshall later this year for the extreme cryogenic thermal testing. They will undergo structural static testing at Northrop Grumman’s facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif. in early 2014, and then be combined with the wing assemblies.

The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It will observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars. The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information about the completion of the center section of the backplane, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/Zuggpq . For a “Behind the Webb” series video about the backplane, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/Zugltr .  For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov

Created in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is America’s focal point for research, development and exploration of outer space.  For over 50 years, NASA has been leading the world in the development and usage of advanced program and project management.  Additional information about NASA can be found at www.nasa.gov.

Source: NASA 

Image: courtesy of NASA

Project for new grain facility at Port of Vancouver receives green light


16 April 2013 – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Richardson International Limited has announced that it has received a project permit from Port Metro Vancouver to build an additional 80,000-metric-tonne concrete grain storage annex at its port terminal

facility in North Vancouver. Richardson plans to begin construction immediately.

“We are very pleased to move forward with this project as we see it as key to meeting growing demand from global markets,” said Darwin Sobkow, Executive Vice-President, Agribusiness Operations. “This expansion will allow us to serve both our farm customers and international buyers more effectively by increasing capacity to move Canadian grains and oilseeds to rapidly emerging markets in Asia-Pacific and around the world.”

port-vancouverRichardson’s Vancouver terminal has been operating at maximum capacity for several years, handling in excess of 3 million metric tonnes (MMT) of grains and oilseeds annually. This $120 million expansion will increase total storage capacity to 178,000 metric tonnes, which will allow Richardson to handle over 5 MMT of grains and oilseeds a year through its Vancouver terminal.

“This is a significant investment in our business and the biggest investment in the Port of Vancouver in more than 20 years,” said Curt Vossen, President and CEO of Richardson International. “Through this project, we are creating jobs, supporting Port Metro Vancouver’s vision to grow the port and ultimately helping to increase Canadian trade by remaining competitive and ensuring continued access to global markets for Prairie farmers.”

Richardson’s expansion will create hundreds of jobs throughout the two-year construction process and will result in the creation of approximately 40 to 50 additional permanent positions at the port terminal facility. Construction is expected to be complete in 2015.

Richardson International is Canada’s largest, privately owned agribusiness and has served farmers across the country for more than 150 years. Based in Winnipeg, Richardson has over 1,800 employees across Canada and is a worldwide handler and merchandiser of all major Canadian-grown grains and oilseeds and a vertically-integrated processor and manufacturer of canola-based products. Richardson is one
of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and is recognized as a global leader in agriculture and food processing.  More at http://www.richardson.ca/

Source: Richardson International

Tourism Project in Bahia State to Create 1,600 Jobs in Brazil


Bahia to develop nautical and cultural heritage tourism to boost employment 

2 March 2013 – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has announced on 21 December 2012 that it has approved a $50.8 million loan to further develop the tourism industry and boost employment in Bahia state, in northeastern Brazil.

bajiaThe project, structured as a multiple works loan under the country’s PRODETUR Program, will invest in a tourism product and marketing strategy, focusing particularly on the state’s nautical and cultural heritage assets, institution-strengthening, improvement of basic services, and socio-environmental management at tourism destinations.

Tourism employs over 150,000 people in the state and accounts for 7.5 percent of Bahia’s gross domestic product, three times the national average. Despite significant tourism growth in recent years, Bahia has struggled to generate enough jobs in the sector to help reduce poverty. In 2010, the state registered more than twice the national average of extreme poverty (14.1 percent compared to 6.3 percent).

The project is expected to create more than 1,600 direct jobs as well as support the construction of a network of boating facilities and cultural and nautical tourism providers. The program will also provide support for entrepreneurship in the tourism sector and provide vocational training for as many as 200 people in nautical and cultural tourism.

For more about this project, visit http://www.iadb.org/en/projects/project-description-title,1303.html?id=BR-L1300

For more about IDB projects in Brazil, go to http://www.iadb.org/en/countries/brazil/brazil-and-the-idb,1002.html.

Established in 1959, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is a source of multilateral financing for sustainable economic, social and institutional development programs and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  More information about the IDB is at www.iadb.org.  For more about IDB projects, visit http://www.iadb.org/en/projects/projects,1229.html.

Source: Inter-American Development Bank

Expansion Project to Improve Road Safety in Honduras


20 February 2013 – A project to widen and improve the major highway in Honduras has received new funding and support from Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).  On 19 February the IDB announced that it has approved a $17.2 million loan to support the widening and improvement of CA-5 Norte, the principal highway in Honduras.

honduras-roadCA-5 Norte, of strategic importance to the region and the country as part of the International Network of Mesoamerican Highways (RICAM), links the capital city, Tegucigalpa, with Honduras’ main industrial area, San Pedro Sula, and to the only deep-water port in Central America, Puerto Cortes, on the Caribbean coast.

The new financing complements a $30 million loan approved by the IDB in 2007 and a $50 million loan approved by the IDB in 2004 to finish works across 50.2 kms of CA-5 Norte. The CA-5 Norte also has financing from the World Bank, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the OPEC Fund and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The 50.2 kms improved with IDB financing are divided in two segments, the first one between San Antonio detour to the end of the Valle de Comayagua with 24.7 kms, and the second segment between La Barca and Villanueva with 25.5 kms, including a 320 ml bridge over the Ulúa river.

The investments will turn 60 percent of CA-5 Norte into a four-lane highway, while 17% will have a third climbing lane, reducing traveling time by 20 percent.  For more information about this project, go to http://www.iadb.org/en/projects/project-description-title,1303.html?id=HO%2DL1089.

To learn more about IDB projects in Honduras, visit http://www.iadb.org/en/countries/honduras/honduras-and-the-idb,1053.html

Established in 1959, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is a source of multilateral financing for sustainable economic, social and institutional development programs and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  More information about the IDB is at www.iadb.org.  For more about IDB projects, visit http://www.iadb.org/en/projects/projects,1229.html.

Source: Inter-American Development Bank

$100M for new Fertilizer Plant Project in Nigeria


February 2013 – Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a loan of US $100 million to Indorama Eleme Fertilizer & Chemicals Limited (IEFCL) to build and operate a gas-to-urea fertilizer plant located in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.  The plant will serve markets in Benin, Brazil, Ghana, India, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

fertilizer-plantThe project will allow Nigeria, which relies heavily (80 per cent) on imported fertilizer, to progressively become self-sufficient and a major exporter. Ultimately, the project will act as a catalyst to support job creation in the area, in addition to helping achieve Millennium Development Goals for food sufficiency and a cleaner environment.

The IEFCL plant, located in the existing Eleme industrial complex, will produce urea to be sold in export and domestic markets. Other project components will include an 84-kilometre pipeline and a multipurpose jetty and terminal infrastructure at OnnePort, 16 km from the project site. The complex is expected to be among the most competitive production sites given the low feedstock price and economies of scale.

Indorama Eleme Fertilizer & Chemicals Limited (IEFCL) is the Borrower and Project Company. It is owned by Eleme and Indorama. Eleme is Africa’s second largest polyolefin producer and has a majority market share of polyethylene and polypropylene in Nigeria complimented by exports to nearby countries.

With this project, the AfDB also promotes small and medium enterprise linkages through the distribution supply chain for the domestic market. The project will create 3,854 jobs of which 250 are direct and 348 indirect local positions during construction and operation. The project will also generate revenues for host communities, River State Government and Eleme employees as well as the Federal Government of Nigeria from dividends, taxes and foreign exchange savings.

For more about AfDB projects in Nigeria, go to http://www.afdb.org/en/countries/west-africa/nigeria/

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a regional multilateral development finance institution established in 1964 to mobilize resources towards the economic and social progress of its Regional Member Countries. It is headquartered in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Since beginning operation in 1966, the Bank has become a key player in promoting economic and social development in African states, providing financing for programs and projects across the continent.  For more information, visit www.adbg.org.

Source: African Development Bank

Project to develop Major New Shopping Centre in Belgrade moves forward with EBRD approval


7 February 2013 – London – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced the approval of a €13.5 million loan to build a ground-breaking retail park in the Serbian capital.  The new park will be in the municipality of Zemun(pictured below), on the right bank of the Danube and will improve the shopping experience for residents of this crowded suburb.  The project will ultimately help introduce products at competitive prices to Belgrade’s shoppers.


The new shopping centre will add 15,309 square metres of retail space to the city and parking for 584 cars.  The project will be carried out by Jelmil d.o.o. and Konzulpro d.o.o., special purpose companies indirectly owned by Jerusalem Economy Ltd. and Industrial Buildings Corporation Ltd from the Fishman Group, a leading Israeli real estate group with a strong presence in the global market.

“Belgrade shoppers are clearly undersupplied, while retailers need more space,” saidMatteo Patrone, EBRD Director for Serbia, announcing the deal. “Our investment helps develop a more affordable retail format providing value for money to both consumers and retailers.”

The new shopping development will attract well-known brands, some of which are expected to be new to Serbia, and become an expansion platform for retailers already operating in the market. Shoppers will enjoy higher quality products which they can buy at affordable prices close to home.  Creating new jobs and more room for shopping, the park will bring a more urban feel to a major suburb of the Serbian capital. The shopping development will also bring top quality standards of energy efficiency to Serbia.

“We strongly believe in the potential of the project, which will provide an innovative shopping experience in the area and contribute to employment improvement” said Moshe Morag, the CEO of Industrial Building Corporation.

Claudia Pendred, EBRD Director for Property and Tourism said: “In all its property projects the EBRD makes sure that less energy is consumed. This retail park will feature the best available technologies, including thermal protection and building management systems which are beyond the local requirements. This will make business more competitive, sustainable and environmentally friendly, at the same time setting higher standards for other market players.”

The EBRD loan comes with a donor-funded €45,572 grant to review the Zemun retail park investment plan, identify opportunities for increased energy efficiency and enhance the sustainability of the business in the future.

The EBRD has previously invested in the construction of modern shopping malls in Split, Croatia, in Skopje, FYR Macedonia and in Surgut, a city in the heart of the oil-rich Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District in western Siberia, Russia.  Since the beginning of its activity in Serbia, the EBRD has committed over €3.0 billion across broad sectors of the economy.

For more information about EBRD projects in Serbia, go tohttp://www.ebrd.com/pages/country/serbia.shtml

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1991 to nurture the private sector in central and eastern Europe and ex-soviet countries. Today the EBRD uses investment to help build market economies and democracies in countries from central Europe to central Asia. The EBRD is the largest single investor in the region and mobilizes significant foreign direct investment beyond its own financing. Owned by 61 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, the EBRD provides project financing for banks, industries and businesses. The EBRD invested €8.7 billion in 388 individual projects in 2012. For more information about the bank, visithttp://www.ebrd.com/index.htm

Based on EBRD news story by Olga Rosc

New UN Project to provide Seeds in South Sudan will benefit 30,000 farmers


18 January 2013 – Rome, Italy – The Food and Agriculture Office (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) will implement a new programme in support of farmers in South Sudan.  Some 30,000 vulnerable farmers in South Sudan will be able to benefit from the programme that aims to improve their livelihoods by boosting the quality of the seeds they use to produce key crops.  The new project was announced by the UN on 15 January 2013.

south-sudan-farmersThe $612,000 programme, which will be implemented with the support of France and South Sudan’s ministry of agriculture, will target several states for one year, training farmers in the production, storage and marketing of quality seeds and cuttings of staple crops such as maize, cassava, cowpeas and sorghum.

“The importance of seeds to the food security and livelihoods of South Sudan’s farmers and rural communities is very high,” said the head of the FAO office in Juba, Sue Lautze. “Despite widespread food insecurity, the country is committed to ensuring food security for all, as soon as possible. Seeds are a critical component to realizing this important ambition.”

According to FAO, decades of conflict and displacement have taken their toll on farmers’ access to quality seeds and other planting materials, and eroded their knowledge of seed production techniques, which undermine crop productivity.  Today, more than 90 per cent of South Sudanese farmers still depend on the informal seed system, which is based primarily on saved seeds, social networks, and local markets. Typically, farmers use saved seeds from one season to the next, which lessens the genetic purity of the seed.

The programme will increase the availability and quality of seeds to South Sudan’s most vulnerable farmers in the states of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Lakes, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. It will also provide assistance to 400 seed producers.

“Through the project, FAO aims to not only reduce the number of households affected by food insecurity through improving the availability and access of locally produced quality seed on the market, but also aims to improve the incomes and capacity of seed producers,” said the Project Officer with FAO South Sudan, Joseph Okidi.

The project will include seed fairs, capacity development for seed enterprises, and training for farmers. It will also increase the amount of land dedicated to quality-seed multiplication, which is currently very limited.

In 2011, FAO and France implemented a similar programme in South Sudan, which led to the production of more than 350 tons of quality seeds and planting materials, and injected some $300,000 into the local economy. With the new programme, the agency is hoping to build on the previous success.

For more information on this programme in South Sudan, visit http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/168191/icode/.

Established in 1945 and headquartered in Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is an intergovernmental affiliation of 191 member nations, two associate members and one member organization, the European Union.  An arm of the United Nations, FAO is present in over 130 countries, with five regional offices, 11 sub-regional offices, two multidisciplinary teams, and 74 fully fledged country offices.  FAO’s mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.  In 2010, FAO implemented programmes and projects around the world with a total value of US$903 million.  For more information, visit www.fao.org.

Source: United Nations

Elizabeth Quay Project in Perth CBD moves to Delivery Phase


13 January 2013 – Perth, Australia –  Leighton Contractors Pty Limited has been awarded the Elizabeth Quay inlet and public space development contract for the Western Australian State Government, worth approximately $200 million. The work will be carried out by Leighton Contractors in conjunction with its subsidiary Broad Construction Services (WA) Pty Ltd.  The contract includes the construction of the 2.7ha inlet, creation of future development sites and new internal roads and the delivery of high quality parks, promenades and an island with a connecting bridge. Inlet construction will commence in mid-2013, starting with excavation on the northern side of Riverside Drive, with the bulk of inlet excavation due for completion in 2014.

elizabeth-quay-projectElizabeth Quay (formerly Perth Waterfront) is a $2.6billion project that will return the city’s focus to the iconic Swan River and enhance Perth’s reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is the centrepiece of a bold plan to revitalise central Perth.

Delivered by the State Government and supported by the City of Perth, Elizabeth Quay will cover nearly 10 hectares of prime riverfront land between Barrack and William streets in the heart of the city. The project will create a magnificent precinct featuring a 2.7 hectare inlet surrounded by a split level promenade, shops, cafes, restaurants and other exciting entertainment venues.

The project will provide new inner-city residential options as well as much-needed hotel and short-stay accommodation, and significant additional commercial space. It is one of several major urban developments being undertaken that will help to further position Perth as contemporary, international city.

Elizabeth Quay has moved into delivery phase – funding has been committed, all major project approvals are in place and works have commenced on site. The public realm around the waterfront inlet will be available for public use in mid-2015, in advance of the completion of private sector developments. Whether you’re a local or a tourist visiting for work, rest or recreation, Elizabeth Quay will be a destination for everyone.

When complete, Elizabeth Quay will be an exciting destination that offers a range of activities to attract people of all ages, at all times of the year.

Peter Handel, General Manager Western Infrastructure at Leighton Contractors, said this contract is a fantastic opportunity for Leighton Contractors and Broad to be part of one of Perth CBD’s biggest projects.

“In bringing our extensive engineering and construction experience and design expertise to this development, we are able to play a big role in contributing to the revitalisation of the city,” Mr. Handel said.  “We are proud to be working with Broad and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority on this iconic project for the people of Perth.”

Roger Lee, Broad Managing Director, said winning the Elizabeth Quay contract reflects the combined knowledge and experience of Leighton Contractors and Broad. “To be awarded a project of this calibre is further evidence of the depth of capabilities the Leighton and Broad team offers clients. Working together ensures a seamless approach to delivering complex and high profile projects.”

“The project team is eager to deliver the city of Perth an exciting and world class precinct,” Mr Lee added.

A workforce of 600 workers will be required on the project, which is expected to commence in early 2013 with a scheduled completion date of mid-2015.

More about the project can be found at http://www.mra.wa.gov.au/Projects/Elizabeth-Quay/About-the-Project/.

Sources: Leighton Contractors, Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority

NASA selects 8 demonstrations for Green Aviation Project


8 January 2013 – Washington, DC – NASA has announced that it has selected eight large-scale integrated technology demonstrations to advance aircraft concepts and technologies that will reduce the impact of aviation on the environment over the next 30 years.  This research effort is aimed to help future travelers fly in quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient airliners.

ERAThe demonstrations, which are part of by NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, will focus on five areas — aircraft drag reduction through innovative flow control concepts, weight reduction from advanced composite materials, fuel and noise reduction from advanced engines, emissions reductions from improved engine combustors, and fuel consumption and community noise reduction through innovative airframe and engine integration designs.

The selected demonstrations are:

  • Active Flow Control Enhanced Vertical Tail Flight Experiment: Tests of technology that can manipulate, on demand, the air that flows over a full-scale commercial aircraft tail.
  • Damage Arresting Composite Demonstration: Assessment of a low-weight, damage-tolerant, stitched composite structural concept, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in weight over state-of-the-art aircraft composite applications.
  • Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge Flight Experiment: Demonstration of a non-rigid wing flap to establish its airworthiness in the flight environment.
  • Highly Loaded Front Block Compressor Demonstration: Tests to show Ultra High Bypass (UHB) or advanced turbofan efficiency improvements of a two-stage, transonic high-pressure engine compressor.
  • 2nd Generation UHB Ratio Propulsor Integration: Continued development of a geared turbofan engine to help reduce fuel consumption and noise.
  • Low Nitrogen Oxide Fuel Flexible Engine Combustor Integration:
  • Demonstration of a full ring-shaped engine combustor that produces very low emissions.
  • Flap and Landing Gear Noise Reduction Flight Experiment: Analysis, wind tunnel and flight tests to design quieter flaps and landing gear without performance or weight penalties.
  • UHB Engine Integration for a Hybrid Wing Body: Verification of power plant and airframe integration concepts that will allow fuel consumption reductions in excess of 50 percent while reducing noise on the ground.

“With these demonstrations we will take what we’ve learned and move from the laboratory to more flight and ground technology tests,” said Fay Collier, ERA project manager based at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “We have made a lot of progress in our research toward very quiet aircraft with low carbon footprints. But the real challenge is to integrate ideas and pieces together to make an even larger improvement. Our next steps will help us work towards that goal.”

The Environmentally Responsible Aviation Project was created in 2009 and is part of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Integrated Systems Research Program. During its first phase, engineers assessed dozens of broad areas of environmentally friendly aircraft technologies and then matured the most promising ones to the point that they can be tested together in a real world environment in the second phase.  Those experiments included nonstick coatings for low-drag wing designs, laboratory testing of a new composite manufacturing technique, advanced engine testing, and test flights of a remotely piloted hybrid wing body prototype.

Key to ERA research is industry partnerships. Each of the demonstrations, which are scheduled to begin this year and continue through 2015, is expected to include selected industry partners, many of which will contribute their own funding. “ERA’s research portfolio provides a healthy balance of industry and government partnerships working collaboratively to mature key technologies addressing ERA’s aggressive fuel burn, noise and emission reductions goals for tomorrow’s transport aircraft,” said Ed Waggoner, director of the Integrated Systems Research Program.

ERA is one of many NASA aeronautics research efforts to develop technologies to make aircraft safer, faster, and more efficient and to help transform the national air transportation system. That research is being conducted at NASA Langley, NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

For more information about NASA aeronautics programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/aeronautics

Created in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is America’s focal point for research, development and exploration of outer space.  For over 50 years, NASA has been leading the world in the development and usage of advanced program and project management.  Additional information about NASA can be found at www.nasa.gov.

Source: NASA

Image: courtesy of NASA

SEMI USA of Houston wins NASA Contract for Flight Projects Building at Goddard Space Flight Center


30 December 2012 – SEMI USA Corporation of Houston has been selected by NASA to construct the Flight Projects Building at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at approximately $31 million, with options for about $1 million worth of additional work. The period of performance for all work is 18 months from issuance of the Notice to Proceed on or about January 31, 2013.

flight-projects-bldgThe Flight Projects Building will contain 120,000 square feet of office space distributed on four floors. The steel-frame, clear-span structure will have glass and terracotta rain-screen panel walls with sun-shading elements. The building also will have interior demountable and fixed walls.

Associated work includes spread-mat foundation, new and upgraded roadways, parking, traffic signals, perimeter site access fencing, site lighting, new and upgraded utilities, erosion and sediment control, storm water management, and landscaping.

This new construction is designed to achieve a minimum of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009 V3 silver certification.

NASA Goddard is located about 6.5 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. The center manages many of NASA’s Earth observation, astronomy, and space physics missions.  The space center encompasses 1,270 acres of land, part of which is loaned by the nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture. These grounds include more than 33 major buildings that provide more than three million square feet of research, development and office space.

Source: NASA

Project to Remove all HEU from Austria Completed One Year Early by GTRI Team


18 December 2012 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), the Vienna University of Technology, and the Government of Austria announced on 11 December the successful return of all remaining U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear reactor fuel from Austria to the United States. Austria is the 22nd country that has worked with GTRI to remove all HEU from its territory.

nnsa“The completion of this project with Austria is another important step in the global effort to minimize the civilian use of HEU around the world, while preserving important research capabilities,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “The removal of the remaining HEU fuel is a significant achievement and it could not have been accomplished without the strong leadership and hard work from our counterparts in Austria.”

The project was initiated in September 2011 when the U.S. and Austria signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together on supplying low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel to fully convert the TRIGA reactor at the Vienna University of Technology, and returning 1.2 kilograms of HEU to the U.S. by the end of 2013. GTRI worked closely with the Vienna reactor staff and the Government of Austria to implement the steps laid out in the MOU and completed the project one year ahead of schedule.

Working together, both sides ensured that this project was conducted to minimize interruption of regular use of the reactor for research and training. In addition to enabling important scientific research work, the Vienna reactor plays an essential role in supporting the critical mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including instrument calibration, IAEA safeguards inspector training and other IAEA supported training.

To date, GTRI has now removed approximately 1,265 kilograms of HEU from countries around the world – the equivalent of about 50 nuclear weapons – under the U.S.-Origin Nuclear Material Removal Program. The shipment of the 1.2 kilograms of HEU was also significant as it marks the removal of all TRIGA HEU fuel from international civilian commerce. This is the 59th shipment of U.S.-origin fuel returned to the U.S. safely and successfully since the U.S.-Origin Nuclear Material Removal Program began in 1996.

GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide. GTRI achieves its mission by converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from the use of HEU to LEU; removing excess nuclear and radiological materials; and by protecting high priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft. Together these efforts provide a comprehensive approach to preventing terrorists’ access to nuclear and radiological materials.

For more information on GTRI’s efforts to secure radiological material, visit http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/factsheets/reducingthreats

Established by the US Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.  More information at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/.

Source: NNSA