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Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Happy Birthday Panama Canal

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

On the other hand, such a project was, in some ways easier to accomplish, 100 years ago.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

(OP)
Less regulation and bureaucracy, no doubt about that. Moving 20 million cubic meters of earth would be a tad easier today.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Fomenting a rebellion to make acquisition of the canal territory by the US might be more difficult, though. Or not.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

It was an amazing feat under extremely difficult situations and amazing engineering progress. (Concrete design and chemistry was relatively new - and they got it right! )

Today, the mosquitoes and the wetlands (Changres River) would be protected, and we would still be in environmental hearings 100 years from now about the environmental impact of the dam, locks, trans-ocean water flow, and flood control.

Moving the dirt (legally) would be the easy part today.

But, today, we would also lose far fewer lives in accidents and injuries. But would not be permitted to kill mosquitoes at all, and so would lose tens of thousands from yellow fever and malaria.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

I don't think the environmental issues are a show stopper... the expansion project has not been delayed by mosquitoes or other environmental impacts, but by cost overruns and low ball bidding.
While it is not the same as a completely new canal, the project is significant;
Build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides. Each will have three chambers with water-saving basins.
Excavate new channels to the new locks.
Widen and deepen existing channels.
Raise the maximum operating level of Gatun Lake.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
-Dalai Lama XIV

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

ewh,

Come back in six or seven years. There could be a Nicaragua Canal by then.

--
JHG

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

There was an article on NPR the other day that implied (if not out right stated I don't recall) that the Panama hasn't yielded a positive return on investment - primarily due to improvements in land transportation infrastructure in the US since WWII.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

KENAT,

I was under the impression that it was profitable and successful.

One of the problems with most Western colonialism was that costs and profits were not shared. Merchants and traders made out like bandits. Taxpayers paid for the troops when the natives got pissed off. I do not know if they faced rebellions in Panama. Definitely, the US financed Panama's rebellion against Columbia.

For the Americans, the Panama Canal was a military asset, allowing them to transfer ships quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This may have saved taxpayers some money.

The Japanese built their battleships Yamato and Mushahi on the assumption that they would have to fight things that fit through the Panama Canal. They didn't.

--
JHG

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

About 500 people died per a mile building the canal so about 10 ft of progress was made per a death. Each morning the train towed cars of dead bodies out. Pretty nuts.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

(OP)
I somehow don't think "Each morning the train towed cars of dead bodies out" is quite rational. 1 or 2 persons a day is actually closer to the reality. The mortality rate has dropped sharply in all occupations since then, thankfully.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

"One of the problems with most Western colonialism was that costs and profits were not shared. Merchants and traders made out like bandits. Taxpayers paid for the troops when the natives got pissed off."

Not all that different than today's capitalistic system. The US invades Iraq over some trumped-up WMD misinformation all so that their oil supplies would remains in the hands of Western interests and guess who paid for it all, US taxpayers and the families of over 4,000 young Americans who paid with their lives.

Same thing is happening here at home. Mining companies collect profits for years while destroying the environment and when something terrible happens, like half a states water supply is contaminated, who ends up paying the price? Not the corporations or their stockholders, that's for sure.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

John--as a metallurgical engineering graduate of Michigan Technological University, which also had a mining engineering curriculum, a geological engineering curriculum and a forestry curriculum, we were taught that there are four sources of natural wealth--forests, farms, fisheries, and mines. The environmental trade offs vs the benefits to mankind were well known at the time. It was further taught that all of these ventures were expected to be conducted in accordance with applicable laws by companies that hoped to make a profit on the ventures. I highly resent your comments.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Are you saying that all of the mining and mineral extraction and processing operations in this country have always been done in compliance with all applicable laws? If so then perhaps the problem lies with who determines what are the "applicable laws", eh? And what do we tell those people in West Virginia who lost their only source of drinking water for several weeks. Were all the "applicable laws" complied with in that situation? If so, how was this situation allowed to get to the point where so many people were impacted by it, through no fault of their own? And in the end, who had to foot the bill to cover the consequences of this incident?

With that in mind, would you please explain exactly what you meant by "The environmental trade offs vs the benefits to mankind..."? You seem to be suggesting that somehow the needs of the environment are at odds with the needs of mankind, as if mankind can ONLY benefit if we're willing to compromise the environment. Is that what you're saying? If so, I'm sorry but mankind is also part of the environment, whether we like it or not, we are NOT in a win - lose relationship with the world around us.

BTW, if you're an MTU grad, what years were you at 'da Tech'?

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Started in Sept of '68. Graduated in June of '72.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

We may have bumped into each other at the 'Union' or out on the campus some time. I started in the Fall of '65 and graduated in June '71.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

John, I will confine my remarks to the time period of the Panama Canal, as this was the topic of the original thread. To your question, "what did I mean by environmental trade offs vs benefits to mankind"? I will get even more specific and focus on mining. A mining company comes in, digs an open pit or sinks a shaft to extract the valuable minerals. That is obviously the trade off (i.e. the downside) of the benefit derived from obtaining the ore and putting it into commerce. In the case of copper in the UP, say around the late 1800's/early 1900's, the benefit was making copper available for production of wire and other products. The wire products benefited mankind by providing the means to convey electrical power to homes and factories. In the time frame I am talking about, there were no laws governing these mining activities so the companies were operating in accordance with the laws of the US even though they left a big hole or rock pile when they were done. A hole or rock pile is not an ecological disaster. Unsightly yes, but not a disaster. The only significant damage the copper mining industry did to the UP was when the extraction of copper from the tailings began. I am specifically referring to the residuals from these activities that were dumped in Torch Lake. It is my understanding that the Torch Lake site has recently removed from EPA's Superfund Project list. All of this activity was legal at the time. Now, numerous state and federal laws require some sort of remediation of closed down mining sites as part of the permitting process. One of the first sites in the region that was handled this way was the Ladysmith copper/zinc mine northeast of Eau Claire. The mine was planned with remediation as part of the development cost. The nickel/copper mine now underway near Republic will be handled in a similar fashion. The laws change over time and what was permissible in the late 1880's no longer is.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

I understand that completely, but what about my questions concerning the hundred of thousands of West Virginia residents who had to go without a safe source of drinking water this past year? Don't you consider that a 'disaster'? And if so, how did it happen if everyone was obeying the law, or was there no laws even covering this sort of thing? If not, how is that not a 'disaster' of another kind, one of incompetence and perhaps even criminal neglect? That is sort of thing I was talking about, not the 'stamp sands' along the Portage Canel.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

John--I'm aware of the chemical spill into the Kanawha River--that was not mining related, but rather a discharge from one of the many chemical facilities in the area. The spill was a violation of the environmental laws, even as an accident. These are not engineering issues, but manufacturing process control/plant management issues.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Now are we talking about the 'coal slurry' released into the Kanawha River in Februrary from a facility owned by Patriot Coal, the second largest coal mining operation in the US:

http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201402110032

Or the release of crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River in January?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Elk_River_chemic...

In either case, how could you say that it "was not mining related"? After all, if it was the February 'coal sluury' release by the second largest coal company in the US, or the MCHM, a chemical used to process coal before being transported to where it's going to burnt as fuel, that would still make both of these incidents related to the mining of coal.

And the fact that there were two events, a month apart, in the same part of the country, both related directly or indirectly to the mining of coal, don't you see how it was that I made the original comment that I did? You have to ask yourself, in the end, who is going to bear the greatest financial burden as a result of these incidents, the corporations involved, or the municipalities and residents who are located downstream on the Kanawha and Elk Rivers? Be honest now, who do you think will really end up paying for most of this? Taxpayers or stockholders?

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Yes, John, I see--an organic chemical spill into a water way. In light of the likely criminal investigations and liability litigation, I'm not going to comment further.

RE: Happy Birthday Panama Canal

Many things used to build the Panama Canal was built here in Milwaukee, WI, not the least being the shovels that dug it out.
Some of the hydraulic cylinders that are used on some (or maybe ALL) of the locks were built here too, and one older guy (now retired) who worked machining some of the cylinders told me an interesting fact about one aspect of the hydraulics on the canal . . .
A form of vegetable oil is used as the hydraulic fluid on the lock cylinders to prevent environmental contamination if there is a leak.

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