SAPNG plans to host more world events

first_imgIn a first for PNG, the Men’s and Women’s Longboard World Championship Tour will take place in Madang in March.But President of the SAPNG, Andrew Abel, says this is only the beginning.“This is the beginning…the next one we’re planning for 2018 in Kavieng in New Ireland province and following that, it will probably be staged in Vanimo or even Bougainville.“What we are essentially trying to do here is that, with the support of the national government, through the stewardship of the Tourism Promotion Authority, is to showcase the true spirit and culture of PNG in the rural areas where 85 percent of our population reside,” said Abel.Abel added that the SAPNG will be heading to Bougainville in April of this year to hand over surfboards to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, with the view of rolling out the SAPNG’s plans and policies.“This will be the groundwork to then stage, potentially in 2019 or 2020, the next World Surf League event in Bougainville.”last_img read more

Read More →

Job Vacancy: Browne Printers seek Print Finisher and Sign Maker

first_imgJob Vacancy: Browne Printers is the leading printing company in the North-West. With over 25-years of experience, our company produces the highest quality in printing services whilst offering value for money. We design and print all types of bespoke signs, branding and stationary Nationwide. We are currently seeking to recruit a Full-Time Print Finisher & Sign Maker. The Print Finisher & Sign Maker’s main duties will include: Operation of booklet makers, guillotine, folder and all types of print finishing equipment. Operation of large format printers and finishing of sign making equipment. The ideal candidate will have: Previous experience in a similar role (would be an advantage but not essential); A good eye for detail & quality control; A willingness to learn and develop skills; The ability to work as part of a team; The ability to work to given deadlines; Excellent customer service skills.  Browne Printers welcome all applications and ask that applicants submit their CV together with a short cover letter explaining why they are applying for the position by email to darren@browneprinters.com   Closing date is 5pm, Friday 7th July 2017. All applications will be dealt with promptly and in the strictest of confidence. Browne Printers Ltd. is an equal opportunities employerJob Vacancy: Browne Printers seek Print Finisher and Sign Maker was last modified: June 23rd, 2017 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BROWNE PRINTERSEmploymentjobVacancylast_img read more

Read More →

Weather officials to give schools hazard-alert radios

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleMany were concerned when they arrived and saw the roof lying on the side of the building. But their children were safe and had not even seen the damage occur, the principal said. Hoping for more such success stories, federal officials planned to announce today in Washington that hazard warning radios will be supplied to all 97,000 public schools in the United States. The National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, operates more than 950 short-range radio stations. It has encouraged schools, business and homeowners to buy warning radios that are activated with a broadcast signal that automatically turns a radio on and announces a potential hazard. The Homeland Security Department now has decided to provide $5 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration make sure these radios are in every public school, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said. Originally conceived as a means to deliver weather warnings, the system now covers many hazards – for example, terrorism, child abductions and derailment of trains carrying toxic materials. WASHINGTON – When the squeal from an automated warning radio brought news that a severe storm was approaching, a school principal in Endicott, N.Y., acted quickly. William Tomic alerted teachers to bring children to a secure interior hallway for shelter. Minutes later, 70 mph winds ripped the roof off the kindergarten wing of the Charles F. Johnson Elementary School in Endicott. No one was hurt, thanks to the warning and the timely response to it. “It really did work very well. We were so pleased with it,” Tomic said in a telephone interview. “The parents were as well.” It takes more than just having the warning radio. School authorities have to know what to do when an alarm sounds. Tomic said his school has two weather drills a year. Each classroom has a kit that the teacher brings along to the shelter area to keep the children occupied with games, stories, songs and other activities. In Fairfax County, Va., three tornado and severe weather drills are held annually, said Fred Ellis, the director of safety and security for public schools. “Certainly we’ve had our share of severe weather,” Ellis said, noting the radios have been in county schools for several years. Typically such radios are kept where there is always someone to monitor them during school hours. “They make quite a racket,” Ellis said, and alert administrators to what is happening outside their buildings. “We’re not immune from severe weather, and we take that very seriously,” Ellis said. In announcing the plan to distribute the radios, the NOAA administrator pointed out that more than 10,000 major thunderstorms, 2,500 floods and 1,000 tornadoes hit the U. S. annually, and hurricanes threaten the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Lautenbacher said National Weather Service personnel will be available to assist school officials in determining how best to use the radios. The radios operate 24 hours a day, receiving forecasts and warnings from the Weather Service’s 123 forecast offices as well as other information. Six states – Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida and Mississippi – already mandate use of the radios in schools. NOAA said those schools will also be included in the new program to make sure they have the most recent models.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Read More →

Family loses belongings on trip to Valley

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’Las Vegas police reportedly obtained surveillance video showing the truck and Jeep pulling into a lot at the Palace Casino Hotel just minutes after they were stolen. A short time later, the truck can be seen in the video leaving without the Jeep, which was later recovered with minor damage. Laptop computers, iPods, a digital camera and a stereo were gone from the vehicle. Police are still investigating the case, and hotel officials are waiting until that investigation is completed before they decide what, if anything, they’ll do to compensate the family. “We’re extremely sympathetic, but we have to remain prudent,” said Ron Reese, a hotel spokesman. “There’s processes in place to deal with situations like this.” Up until the theft, the move had been a joyous occasion for the close-knit family. Debbie and Craig Krzyston, along with their daughter, Samantha, decided to move from Geneva, a western suburb of Chicago, where they had lived all their lives, to the San Fernando Valley so they could be near their son, Justyn, of Studio City. They were looking forward to palm trees and 80-degree Decembers. The Krzyston family hopes that everything stolen in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. On their way to relocating to the San Fernando Valley from Chicago over the Thanksgiving holiday, all their life possessions – from sofas to shoes to family photos – were lost when a moving truck they were driving was stolen from a Sin City parking lot. Staying at the Venetian Hotel, the Krzystons parked their 26-foot Penske rental truck and the Jeep Cherokee it was pulling into a large, guarded parking lot the hotel uses for guests with oversize vehicles that offers 24-hour security. When they returned the next day, the truck, Jeep and everything else they owned were gone. “I’ve been here almost six years,” said Justyn, 24, who owns a construction company. “Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to get them to move to California, and my dad says they’ve been trying to get me to move back, and I finally won.” He had rented a nearby town home for his parents and sister with a yearlong lease, but they’re staying with him because he doesn’t want them living in a home with no furniture or clothes. “We don’t have a huge $10,000 savings account or money saved for a rainy day,” Krzyston said of his working-class family. “We had stuff.” His father worked in the machine tool industry and his mother was a real estate paralegal. They did not have jobs lined up in L.A. “We’re trying to get through every day as it comes,” Krzyston said. “People ask, `How are you going to get through Christmas?’ Christmas? How am I going to get through Wednesday?” Krzyston said although his family would like to recover TVs, clothes and furniture, their heart is heavy thinking about other lost items. “Give me my pictures, my swim team trophies from when I was 8 years old,” Krzyston said. “Baby pictures, family mementos from my grandpa … letters from grandma … my African journal (from a mission trip). Where is it? It probably still smells like Africa. Where is it?” rick.coca@dailynews.com (818) 713-3329160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
Read More →

Employee and Accomplice Charged with Embezzling about $110K from Department Store

first_imgTwo women were charged with felony embezzlement after they told police they had worked together to steal as much as $110,000 from a James City County department store.Jessica Chenise Bartlett, 41 of York, and Tamniqua Juavonne Fields, 36 of James City, were charged with felony embezzlement and conspiring to commit larceny, according to filings in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.On November 1, both women were interviewed by James City County investigators and admitted in separate interviews they had worked together to steal merchandise from the Belk store at the WindsorMeade Marketplace in James City County, according to the court documents.- Sponsor – Fields told police she had stolen about $30,000 worth of merchandise and Bartlett said she had worked with Fields to take about $80,000 worth of merchandise since November 1, 2018, the filings said. Both women told police they had worked out a scheme where… The Virginia Gazette Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Read More →

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… for Hackers

first_imgThere are so many ways for the holidays to turn sour for an online retailer. Gift cards and loyalty points, not subject to the same type of verification as credit cards, are stolen from customer accounts and used for fraudulent purposes. Compromised corporate credit cards are used to make high-volume purchases in the thousands of dollars and shipped to multiple locations… activity that might raise flags for a consumer card, but pass as business as usual during business gift season. Customer credentials and payment information are hacked from one retailer’s site, then reused far and wide to victimize more secure, but unsuspecting merchants. These are all real examples we hear too often from retailers.With annual sales projected to reach over $630 billion by 2020, online retailers are a rich target for hackers, so much so that annual losses are estimated at $12 billion. And with holiday sales representing nearly 20 percent of the year’s sales for retailers, hacks and breaches can be especially painful during this time of year when businesses are… TotalRetail Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Read More →

“Green Button” Open Data Just Created an App Market for 27M US Homes

first_imgEarlier this year, influential venture capitalist Fred Wilson encouraged entrepreneurs and VCs to get behind open data. Writing on his widely read blog, Wilson urged developers to adopt the Green Button, the project that former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra launched in 2011 to unleash energy data.Today, the Obama Administration announced that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers have committed to using and extending the Green Button to enable some 15 million households to access data about their energy usage. As with the Blue Button for healthcare data, the White House asserts that providing energy consumers with secure access to information about energy usage will increase innovation in the sector and empower citizens with more information. “This is the kind of innovation that gets me excited,” Wilson wrote.The Green Button is like OAuth for energy data. It is a simple standard that the utilities can implement on one side and web/mobile developers can implement on the other side. And the result is a ton of information sharing about energy consumption and in all likelihood energy savings that result from more informed consumers. The thinking here, as with Blue Button, which enables veterans (and soon all federal workers) to download their personal health data, is that broad adoption by utilities and engagement with industry will lead to new opportunities for software developers and civic entrepreneurs to serve a new market of millions of consumers who want better tools to analyze and manage their energy data. Chopra challenged the energy community last September to model the Green Button after the Blue Button. According to the White House, a common standard for the data in Green Button will be further developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.“Companies are already developing Web and smartphone applications and services for businesses and homeowners that can use Green Button data,” Dr. John P. Holdren, assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote in a White House blog post. “These tools can help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their energy use patterns; deliver customized energy-efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and conduct virtual energy audits that can cut costs for building owners and speed the initiation of retrofits.”“If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you know how clever and convenient some of the apps are, and how they can transform the way you manage your time, your finances, and the way you work,” said Tony Earley, PG&E Corporation’s Chairman, CEO and President in a prepared statement. “The more apps that are available on the energy side, the more chance our customers will have to find an easy way to similarly manage their energy use.”Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy The electricity suppliers and utilities that are making this new commitment serve, in aggregate, 15 million households. They include American Electric Power, Austin Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, CenterPoint Energy, Commonwealth Edison, NSTAR, PECO, Reliant, Virginia Dominion Power.In service of that goal, the administration announced that Itron, Oracle, and Silver Spring Networks will join Aclara and Tendril in developing Green Button software and a new Apps for Energy contest to try to catalyze the development of new Web and mobile tools.Open Data and Smart DisclosureThe Green Button is a good example of data for the public good and “smart disclosure,” whereby a private company or government institution provides a person with access to his or her own data in open formats.Smart disclosure is defined by Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office for Information and Regulatory Affairs, as a process that “refers to the timely release of complex information and data in standardized, machine-readable formats in ways that enable consumers to make informed decisions.”For instance, the quarterly financial statements of the top public companies in the world are now available online through the Securities and Exchange Commission.Why does it matter? The interactions of citizens with companies or government entities generate a huge amount of economically valuable data. If consumers and regulators had access to that data, they could tap it to make better choices about everything from finance to healthcare to real estate, much in the same way that Web applications like Hipmunk and Zillow let consumers make more informed decisions.“I’m a big fan of simplicity and open standards to unleash a lot of innovation,” wrote Wilson.APIs and open data aren’t always simple concepts for end users. Green Buttons and Blue Buttons are pretty simple concepts that most consumers will understand. I’m hoping we soon see Yellow Buttons, Red Buttons, Purple Buttons, and Orange Buttons too.Let’s get behind these open data initiatives. Let’s build them into our apps. And let’s pressure our hospitals, utilities, and other institutions to support them. I’m going to reach out to ConEd, the utility in NYC, and find out when they are going to add Green Button support to their consumers data. I hope it is soon.ConEd doesn’t look to be on board with the Green Button quite yet – but they may soon have more incentives to join. alexander howard Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Related Posts Tags:#Government#Internet of Things#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Read More →

The New Blood at the FDA

first_imgThose wringing their hands about the state of science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can breathe a little easier, as things seem to be looking up. A well-respected oncologist and cancer biologist will be acting chief of the agency after current head Andrew von Eschenbach steps down next week. Filling the new post of chief scientist, Frank Torti came to FDA in May from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he headed up the cancer center. The agency created the chief scientist position at the urging of the Institute of Medicine, which had expressed concerns about FDA’s research capacity and handling of scientific issues.It’s unknown whether Torti is a candidate for the permanent spot. But for the time being, scientists will be cheered by the selection of the new boss. In his brief time at FDA, Torti has created a new fellowship program for physicians and scientists, and reportedly was a driving force behind the review of the safety of bisphenol-A (BPA) in plastics. It’s not clear how much headway Torti has made on the culture of science at FDA, where reviewers have complained that their concerns about drug and device safety are often squelched.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)“He’s very forward-thinking and strategic,” and “very close to the practice of both medicine and basic science,” which should serve him well as acting commissioner, says Barbara McNeil, who chairs FDA’s Science board and is a physician and health care policy expert at Harvard. She’s particularly pleased that Torti is “making efforts to make sure that there is a lot of external input from outside FDA” to help the agency prioritize what to tackle next.last_img read more

Read More →

New U.S. rules on helium sales said to stifle competition

first_imgNew rules on selling off a U.S. government cache of helium aren’t working as planned, a congressional panel learned today. A 2013 law designed to increase competition may actually be stifling it, according to witnesses. The law has also failed to stabilize the market price of a resource that is indispensable for many types of technology and scientific research, scientists say.The Helium Stewardship Act aimed to establish a competitive market for federal helium, which accounts for more than 40% of U.S. supply, by phasing in an auction instead of simply having the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sell it for a fixed price. But the number of companies buying from the reserve fell last year from eight to four.That drop led Representative Doug Lamborn (R–CO), chair of the energy and mineral resources panel of the Committee on Natural Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives, to declare at today’s hearing that “the first year of the BLM’s implementation [of the law] has been a failure.” But other members drew the opposite conclusion, noting that the portion of gas sold at auction went for a much higher price than BLM set for the rest of last year’s sales. “Why are we upset that the companies that were willing to pay the most for the gas won?” asked subcommittee member Representative Don Beyer (D–VA).Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Helium has unique properties that make it irreplaceable for some applications. For example, helium is the only element that won’t freeze, making liquid helium indispensable for reaching temperatures near absolute zero. That’s key for cooling the magnets of MRI machines and for myriad types of physics research. Starting in the 1960s, the United States accumulated a vast reserve of crude helium—a byproduct of natural gas drilling—storing 1 trillion liters of gas underground in a natural geological formation near Amarillo, Texas. However, in 1996, Congress passed the Helium Privatization Act, which ordered BLM to sell the helium reserve.Those sales proved problematic. The 1996 law instructed BLM to sell the helium at a constant rate and at a price that would recoup the $1.3 billion that the government had spent accumulating it. But that approach was holding down the market price of helium and encouraging waste, concluded a 2010 report from the National Academies’ National Research Council. What’s more, BLM had a mandate to continue the sales only until it had recouped the government’s investment. That would have occurred in September 2013, with roughly 370 billion liters still in the ground.So Congress passed the 2013 act, and last year 10% of BLM’s helium sales were through auction. But the change didn’t broaden the market as hoped.More than a dozen companies sell refined helium. But only four of them have refineries connected to the federal helium reserve. So nonrefiners who buy federal helium must work out a “tolling” deal to get one of the refiners to process it. In the past, BLM had reserved 10% of helium for fixed-price “non-allocated” sales to nonrefiners, four of whom bought helium in 2013. But with that helium now on sale to the highest bidder, two of the refiners bought it all, shutting out the nine nonrefiners at the auction.Refiners were apparently willing to pay a premium to block entry by the nonrefining companies. At auction, the winning bidders paid an average of $5.69 per kiloliter of gas, 52% more than the fixed price for the 90% of the helium that BLM sold to refiners in so-called allocated sales, Anne-Marie Fennell of the Government Accounting Office testified.Whether such a tactic is fair depends on whom you ask. Refiners essentially gamed the system, said David Joyner, president of Air Liquide Helium America Inc. of Houston, Texas, which doesn’t do its own refining. “The auction was set up to fail from the start,” he said. In particular, he said, nonrefiners were effectively discouraged from bidding because BLM has not enforced provisions of the law requiring refiners to set a reasonable price. Joyner wants BLM to maintain the sales for nonrefiners in addition to the auction sales, which Lamborn says is what the law intended.The general manager for global helium at Air Products & Chemicals Inc. in Allentown, Pennsylvania—which bought 78% of the auctioned helium—sees it differently. “The auction last year did exactly what the [2013] act intend, obtain a market price for helium,” said Walter Nelson, whose company also refines helium. Nelson said that if nonrefiners don’t like the price set by refiners they should simply invest in their own refineries. However, experts say that’s unlikely to happen, given that the reserve is likely to close in 6 years.Its closure will likely make a bad situation worse for scientists, says William Halperin, a physicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Researchers are already being battered by price volatility, he testified. For example, Halperin told ScienceInsider that he pays about $6.50 per liter of liquid helium, whereas some of his colleagues have to pay as much at $40 per liter of liquid helium. Halperin told the committee that he would like to know why the range is so great. Such volatility, he said, is likely to get worse when the federal reserve in Amarillo, Texas, closes: It is the only place in the world where helium can be stockpiled to provide a buffer against supply fluctuations. “This subcommittee should consider possible legislative fixes to keep the helium reserve open beyond 2021,” he testified at the hearing.The next BLM auction is planned for 18 August. According to the law, that auction should account for 20% of BLM sales in 2015.last_img read more

Read More →