Best construction practice or another kind of vandalism?

For the past two years I have walked past the Gallatin building on my way to 721 Broadway (where I recently graduated from ITP!).

A long-time New Yorker, I have a fondness for the historic architecture of downtown – especially those which comprise the New York University campus.

Yesterday I had a bit of a shock when I saw steel L brackets bolted to otherwise pristine faces of granite blocks framing the windows on the Gallatin building’s  south-facing 1 Washington Place side.

I understand that scaffolding must be put in place for various types of construction and why.  I simply have never seen an invasive attachment like the one on Gallatin.

Even if there isn’t secondary fracturing and the bolt holes are plugged with epoxy, those otherwise pristine faces will never be the same and their deterioration will now accelerate requiring maintenance where none would have been needed.

The cavalier treatment of this historic building is a crime against culture, history, and property.   These are the actions of someone who has decided that the preservation of historic architecture has little to no value: unless they  — or an affiliate  — will be hired to continually repair the damage which they have begun.

Tritium leak in South Carolina

Tritium, a radioactive isotope of the element Hydrogen, continues to leak from nearly every civilian site of nuclear power generation. The concern with Tritium is that it bonds with Oxygen and easily enters the biosphere as a radioactive water molecule which then emits ionizing Alpha particles where ever it travels, or lodges.

 Radioactive tritium found in leak at South Carolina nuclear plant

Fracking Ban Stands in New York Town; Victory for Local Communities

 Fracking Ban Stands in New York Town; Victory for Local Communities March 12, 2013 | Feature The Story of Dryden: The Town That Fought Fracking
No longer content with the sale of property and goods, the Supreme Court has recently converted the political system of the United States for sale to those corporate entities willing to spend the most.  So before our new masters get around to having more laws changed in their favor, this is a good time to support Earth Justice.
“Earthjustice was created by a small group of attorneys with a passionate belief that the power of the law could be used to preserve the environment. They helped establish the right of citizens to go to court to enforce environmental laws when the government couldn’t or wouldn’t.”Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President


Atmospheric Electricity

“To give a further example of the magnitude of the problem, the fair weather current density is stated from several sources to be approximately 3E-12 amps / meter2. This means that if a square meter of conducting material was placed horizontally in the air, approximately .000000000003 amps would flow through that surface. To illustrate the problem further, if a wire (1/32inch diam., for example) was used instead of a square meter of material, the current flow would be approximately (4.95E-7meters2) *( 3E-12amps / meter2 ) = 1.5E-18 amps, or .0000000000000000015 amps.” — Clifford E Carnicom, Measuring Atmospheric electricity

So much for charging a phone with energy from the ambient air.

Hanford Site: Radioactive Levels Ten Times Lethal Limit

The more research I do, the more depressing the results.  The article below (linked to its source) was published in 2010.  In terms of radioactive half-life four years does not make a difference.

Googling “radiation leak Hanford” will return enough entries to make anyone’s head spin.   Hanford is not the only nuclear waste site in the United States.  The EPA references over a thousand  nuclear waste sites in the United States alone.   Projecting this on a global scale boggles the mind.

I can’t help but wonder if the general plan from the 1940s until today(?) has been, “let’s take the money now and let those guys in the future figure things out.”

Bummer for us is that we are those guys.


 Hanford, Washington Site: Radioactive Levels Ten Times Lethal Limit At Cold War Nuclear Reservation  SHANNON DININNY   11/17/10 05:36 PM ET   AP   YAKIMA, Wash. — Workers cleaning up the nation's most contaminated nuclear site have discovered an area of soil so radioactive it exceeds lethal limits tenfold, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Wednesday with its cleanup contractor.  The finding represents some of the worst contamination at south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation and highlights the difficulty and danger in cleaning up a site where records about Cold War-era weapons production either weren't kept or were incomplete.  Even though it's highly radioactive, the contaminated soil does not pose an immediate risk to health or safety of workers or the environment, said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure, the contractor hired to clean up this area of Hanford for the DOE.  The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The site produced plutonium for nuclear weapons through the Cold War, but the work left hundreds of radioactive buildings, including nuclear reactors, debris and waste.  Workers found this soil contamination under a building that was used from 1966 to 1996 to explore methods to treat radioactive waste. The workers discovered a cracked steel liner under a drain in a radioactive hot cell, where the research years ago could be conducted safely, then used remote equipment to conduct soil samples under the building to determine if there may have been a leak.  The samples showed radiation levels thousands of times greater than allowable levels for exposure over one hour, and 10 times the lethal limit.  Nelson said the three biggest concerns when such a high level of radioactivity is located are direct exposure to workers, the contamination becoming airborne, and the contamination migrating to groundwater. Because the soil sits under a building and workers are shielded from the radiation, he said, the first two are not an immediate risk.  There also is no evidence the contamination has affected groundwater, said Mark French, project coordinator for the DOE's Columbia River corridor cleanup.  The building in question sits about a quarter-mile from the Columbia River, which is the largest waterway in the Pacific Northwest and creates the northern and eastern boundaries of the Hanford site.
Hanford, Washington Site: Radioactive Levels Ten Times Lethal Limit At Cold War Nuclear Reservation

Art and Muzak

“It seems obvious, looking back, that the artists of Weimar Germany and Leninist Russia lived in a much more attenuated landscape of media than ours, and their reward was that they could still believe, in good faith and without bombast, that art could morally influence the world.  Today, the idea has largely been dismissed, as it must in a mass media society where art’s principal social role is to be investment capital, or, in the simplest way, bullion.  We still have political art, but we have no effective political art.  An artist must be famous to be heard, but as he acquires fame, so his work accumulates ‘value’ and becomes, ipso-facto, harmless.  As far as today’s politics is concerned, most art aspires to the condition of Muzak.  It provides the background hum for power.”
Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New