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Wednesday, July 27, 2016 @ 01:07 PM gHale

A shelter in place order lifted Monday night for the Galena Park, TX, area after a chemical release at a Pasadena plant Monday afternoon.

A power failure and some CO2 emissions at the Pasadena Refining Systems Inc. (PSRI) in Pasadena caused a temporary shutdown of operations to the Washburn Tunnel, the Houston Ship Channel in addition to the shelter in place, officials said.

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The Pasadena Refining System flared off product, including sulfur dioxide, at their plant in the 1100 block of Red Bluff, said Pasadena Fire Marshal Dave Brannon said.

“Due to the weather we had (Monday) afternoon, they (PRSI) had a partial power outage so they were operating at about half-power,” Brannon said.

As a result, the plant had to flare off some product, including sulfur dioxide, and with the wind direction moving the heavy black smoke toward Galena Park, authorities issued a temporary precautionary shelter in place and the partial shutdown of the Washburn Tunnel and the Houston Ship Channel.

Thick smoke and small particles could be seen in the air.

Friday, July 15, 2016 @ 08:07 AM gHale

Peabody, MA, firefighters battled a stubborn foam factory fire Tuesday afternoon into the next day.

Roughly 50 employees were inside the Lifoam Industries factory when flames erupted in the warehouse section of the building just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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All workers safely evacuated, and there were no injuries reported among the firefighters from Peabody and surrounding communities who joined in battling the three-alarm fire, said Peabody Firefighter Brian L’Italien.

On its website, Lifoam said it created “the world’s first … foam ice chest, and with it, an entire new industry.’’

Firefighters were on scene throughout the night Tuesday and were still on scene Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office waited for the fire to be completely out before going in to start their investigation, said fire marshal spokeswoman Jen Mieth.

The hazardous material team is also conducting air monitoring tests, Mieth said. The meter readings in the area have been within safe levels, she said. They were a precautionary measure as a result of the thick black smoke fuming from the building.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 @ 05:07 PM gHale
The Toshiba IKS-R307 camera.

The Toshiba IKS-R307 camera.

Toshiba Surveillance & IP Video Products launched a new line of 960H analog dome cameras that provide a 34 percent increase in resolution over other D1 analog cameras and more than 500 percent larger than CIF cameras.

D1 (720 x 480 pixels) is the maximum resolution a conventional analog camera can achieve after the video signal has been digitized in a DVR or a video encoder.

Toshiba IKS-D207 (indoor) and IKS-R307 (outdoor) cameras incorporate a 960 x 640 CCD sensor to provide insurance against risks such as property damage, vandalism, theft and burglary by delivering 700 TV lines (TVL) — the highest available to date — for extraordinarily sharp video, along with 24 IR LEDs to accommodate night time conditions down to 0.05 lx for 24/7/365 surveillance. Recording larger images not only supplies more image details, it additionally produces a wide-screen picture that does not require stretching to fit HDTVs or monitors. 

Incorporating similar dome designs and feature sets, both cameras offer 4x zoom, 78° tilt and full 360° rotation to accurately track objects of interest. The more rugged of the pair, the outdoor IKS-R307, is IK10 vandal resistant and features a built-in heater that keeps the camera operating down to -49° F.

The IKS-D207 and IKS-R307 are companions to the Toshiba EAV16-480 embedded analog 960H DVR. Plus, because they are backwards compatible with standard resolution cameras and DVRs, upgrading an existing system is fast and affordable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 @ 02:07 PM gHale

Fire crews battled a huge fire at an oil and gas rig in San Juan County, NM, Tuesday morning.

The fire started around 10:15 p.m. Monday night on WPX property near Nageezi.

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Crews initially surrounded the fire which ended up contained quickly but was let to burn as it was too hot for firefighters to get close.

Around 36 oil storage tanks caught on fire and drilling in the area has stopped.

WPX made sure residents in the area remained safe as they fought to keep the fire contained to their property.

No one suffered an injury and all employees, contractors and families in the area are accounted for. 55 people ended up evacuated overnight but most are back home. 

WPX does not know how the fire started.

Monday, July 11, 2016 @ 05:07 PM gHale

An oven fire forced firefighters to battle a two-alarm fire Wednesday night inside the Kellogg’s plant in Kansas City, KS.

The fire call came in just after 9 p.m. The fire broke out on the third floor of the five-story building.

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Workers quickly evacuated the building.

Two firefighters ended up treated for heat exhaustion, and one of them went to the hospital. There were no other injuries reported.

Kellogg Company spokesperson Kris Charles issued this statement:

“An oven fire began at approximately 9 p.m. [Wednesday], at our cracker plant in Kansas City. Production ceased and all employees were safely evacuated from the building. We currently are assessing the damage in order to determine next steps.”

Crews estimated the fire caused $1.5 million in damages and loss.

The fire remains under investigation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 @ 10:07 AM gHale

A malfunctioning cylinder released chlorine gas at the Tompkinsville, KY, sewage treatment plant forcing an evacuation of the area.

“The operators were calling in from the sewer treatment plant that there had been a chlorine gas leak. As we got over here we found the operators out of the facility,” said Monroe County Emergency Management Director David Rich.

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Emergency management set up a command post at the old Monroe County High School before clearing a one-mile radius area.

“We proceeded to evacuate from the immediate area. We evacuated businesses and homes.”

As emergency management crews read the chlorine levels in the air last Tuesday morning, dozens of people were sent to the armory in Tompkinsville.

A few hours after the leak, chlorine readings went down and the people stuck at the armory were able to head home, but the sewer plant remained contaminated.

“The city will be bringing in the local provider of the chlorine gas,” said Rich. “They’ll bring in their own specialty crew to clear the area down there to make sure that’s okay to go back into operation as normal.”

Emergency management said they’re not sure if the chlorine tube malfunctioned, or if it had something to do with how it was installed, but all quarantines were lifted by the end of Tuesday.

Kentucky Emergency Management and Warren County Management responded to the scene along with Monroe County Crews. Those emergency workers said sewer plant should be back to normal by Tuesday night as well.

Friday, July 1, 2016 @ 04:07 PM gHale

A fire broke out at the Enterprise Products Partners natural gas processing plant in Pascagoula, MS, late Monday night.

As of Tuesday morning, flames had diminished and the remaining embers are vapors burning off, said Rick Rainey, vice president of public relations for Enterprise Products Partners.

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Firefighters worked throughout the night into early Tuesday morning to ensure they were able to contain the blaze.

At the time of the explosion, two workers were inside of the plant, but according to Rainey, no one suffered an injury.

“We are thankful no one was injured,” Rainey said. “Both workers were within a secure control room which kept them from being seriously hurt.”

Pascagoula police posted to their Facebook account they were assisting other first responders and said there was no cause for concern and evacuations were not necessary.

Residents should not worry about potential backlash their property or environment would face, said Earl Etheridge, Jackson County emergency services director.

“There’s no need for concern,” Etheridge said. “Being that this was a natural gas fire, you have to let it burn, so our objective is to keep things cool and keeping the fire under control.”

The facility ended up shut down, said Rainey, added the cause of the incident is under investigation.

An investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is going out to the scene.

The investigative team will be led by Investigator in Charge Cheryl MacKenzie and will be accompanied by Board Member Kristen Kulinowski – who will serve as the board’s primary spokesperson.

“The CSB’s investigations examine a wide range of safety issues such as effective process safety management and equipment failures,” said CSB Chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. “Our investigations aim to improve the safety of workers and the public.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 @ 09:06 AM gHale

It is possible to steal data from a computer using the noise emitted by its fans to transmit data.

It is no secret researchers have been able to silently cull data from isolated devices using optic, thermal, electromagnetic and acoustic covert channels. Researchers showed they could purloin data using a computer’s internal or external speakers. As a result, for security reasons, companies working in “highly sensitive” areas did not allow computers to have the components.

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But even that didn’t stop the potential to steal information as researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found a new acoustic data exfiltration attack that doesn’t rely on speakers. Instead, they just use the noise emitted by a computer’s fans to transmit data. They call the attack Fansmitter.

Here is how it works: A piece of malware installed on the targeted air-gapped computer can use the device’s fans to send bits of data to a nearby mobile phone or a different computer equipped with a microphone.

Several types of fans can be used for the task, but CPU and chassis fans are the perfect target because they can be monitored and controlled using widely available software.

The frequency and the strength of the acoustic noise emitted by fans depends on revolutions per minute (RPM), according to a paper written by Mordechai Guri, Yosef Solewicz, Andrey Daidakulov, and Yuval Elovici.

Attackers can control the fan to rotate at a certain speed to transmit a “0” bit and a different speed to transmit a “1” bit.

The noise is in the 100-600 Hz range, which a human ear can detect, but the researches said attackers could use several methods to avoid raising suspicion. For instance, they can program the malware to transmit data during hours when no one is in the room (e.g. at night). They can also use low or close frequencies, which are less noticeable.

Researchers have conducted experiments using a regular Dell desktop computer with CPU and chassis fans, and a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone with a standard microphone to capture the exfiltrated data.

The testing environment was a computer lab with several other workstations, switches and an air conditioning system, all of which produced background noise.

The experiment showed attackers can transmit 3 bits per minute using low frequencies (1000 RPM for “0” and 1600 RPM for “1”) over a distance of one meter. This means it would take three minutes to transmit 1 byte of data (e.g. one character of a password).

The transfer rate is much better at higher frequencies. For instance, at 4000 – 4250 RPM, experts transferred 15 bits per minute over a one-meter distance. At 2000-2500 RPM, they obtained 10 bits per minute over a four-meter distance, and the same transfer rate can also be obtained over a distance of eight meters if the frequency increases.

“Using Fansmitter, attackers can successfully exfiltrate passwords and encryption keys from a speakerless air-gapped computer to a mobile phone in the same room from various distances,” researchers said in their paper. “We demonstrated the effective transmission of encryption keys and passwords from a distance of zero to eight meters, with bit rate of up to 900 bits/hour. We show that our method can also be used to leak data from different types of IT equipment, embedded systems, and IoT devices that have no audio hardware, but contain fans of various types and sizes.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @ 03:06 PM gHale

Toshiba released its IKS-WD6123 3-megapixel micro-dome IP camera.

Toshiba released its IKS-WD6123 3-megapixel micro-dome IP camera.

Discreet, non-obtrusive surveillance cameras are ideal where there is limited space or when it is important that subjects not be aware anyone is watching.

To meet this growing need, Toshiba released its IKS-WD6123 3-megapixel micro-dome IP camera that provides a cost-effective surveillance solution for discreet indoor installations that require superior picture quality at minimal bandwidth.

With a profile height of only two inches, the IKS-WD6123’s design makes it difficult for people to see which direction the camera is pointing, if they notice it at all. The low profile also makes the camera very simple to install and setup. It features 3-axis angle adjustment that enables mounting on walls or ceilings while allowing the factory-focused 2.3mm fixed lens to maintain a level image.

PoE connectivity, edge storage and ONVIF Profile S compliance ensures trouble-free, versatile system integration, even in tight, difficult-to-reach locations.

The IKS-WD6123 provides a wide viewing angle of 125° so a single camera can deliver complete coverage of a large room, such as a retail outlet or hotel lobby, letting security professional observe either side of the camera without blind spots. Quad individually configurable video streams in H.264 or MJPEG compression allow different areas of a scene to be simultaneously viewed or recorded at resolutions as high as 2048 x 1536 by a single camera to help minimize bit rate and storage needs.

For improved visibility in variable lighting conditions the IKS-WD6123 boasts electronic day/night imaging, True Wide Dynamic Range and a minimum illumination range down to 0.01 lux. Its price point and ability to reduce storage and bandwidth requirements without sacrificing image details qualifies it as an excellent choice for manufacturing, retail, hotel, educational, office and casino applications.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 @ 07:06 AM gHale

The Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor returned to service late Thursday following a more-than-three-month shutdown while workers repaired nearly 300 cracked or deteriorated bolts.

Indian Point Unit 2 in Buchanan, NY, began sending electricity to the grid serving Westchester County and New York City Thursday night after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) signed off on repairs performed by workers for Entergy, the Louisiana-based owner of the plant.

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“Nearly 2,000 professionals, including 1,000 specialist contractors, performed hundreds of activities that can occur only while the unit was shut down,” said Larry Coyle, the top-ranking Entergy official at Indian Point. “More than 900,000 person-hours of work were performed over the last three months to prepare Indian Point for continuous, safe operations well into the future.”

Entergy initially planned to reopen the reactor in time for summer, when demands for electricity would be greatest.

Entergy engineers replaced 278 bolts, many of which federal safety regulators in March determined were either cracked or degraded. The discovery occurred during the reactor’s planned refueling outage, a labor-intensive task performed every two years at a cost of $120 million.

The bolt repairs and other safety-related enhancements added two months to the reactor’s scheduled reopening. The company said it also upgraded certain equipment on the plants’ cooling systems to provide an extra layer of safety.

“The levels of back-up safety protections now installed at Indian Point are unprecedented and, while unlikely ever to be needed, they make the facility safer than ever,” Coyle said.

Unit 2 set a record by being in operation 627 days in a row before the March refueling. Indian Point’s other reactor, Unit 3, has been providing electricity continuously for six months.

In a federal court challenge, anti-nuclear group “Friends of the Earth” opposed the NRC’s decision to allow Entergy to restart the reactor.

On Thursday, a panel of federal appeals court judges gave the NRC until Tuesday to respond to the group’s latest challenge, according to its lawyers. The panel turned down the group’s emergency request to shut down the reactor while the legal action is pending.

“The regulator’s response so far to this increased risk of public health and safety is to allow Entergy, the licensee and regulated party, free rein to decide whether and to what extent it should analyze the cause of the failure, and to determine when, in Entergy’s opinion, Unit 2 is safe to restart,” the group’s lawyers wrote in court papers filed this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said the company wasn’t surprised by Friends of the Earth’s petition and defended the company’s safety record.

“Rigorous technical analysis conducted by Entergy and outside engineering experts demonstrates Unit 2 and Unit 3 can continue to operate safely,” Nappi said. “Highly qualified experts at the NRC are fully aware of this analysis, and Entergy is proceeding according to NRC process and under the watchful eye of this regulator. NRC monitors our performance in this and other areas to ensure the plant is safe now and on an ongoing basis.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for the shutdown of Indian Point, citing the potential danger to nearby residents in the event of a nuclear mishap.