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Bechtel lauded by DOE for safety work at Hanford: Council Global Partner Bechtel has once again earned the highest recognition for excellence in safety from the U.S. Department of Energy's Voluntary Protection Program for the company's work at the Waste Treatment Plant project on the historic Hanford Site in Washington State. It marks the second time the project has achieved Star status in the program, which recognizes contractors and employees who demonstrate outstanding achievement in safety and health -- above and beyond U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. In particular, the program focuses on grassroots, employee-led safety programs as well as manager involvement and follow-through. The Waste Treatment Plant is a complex of more than 20 facilities, including four stadium-sized buildings that will safely treat radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks at Hanford, near the Columbia River.
Qualcomm eyes mobile education: With predictions that smartphone growth will slow, a report in The National quotes officials with chipset maker Qualcomm saying they are looking at opportunities to develop apps for the mobile education sector, particularly in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Qualcomm, a Council Lead Partner, has identified smart cities and transport as growth sectors as well. The National reports that the mobile education initiative will begin primarily in the MENA region where most governments are interested in investing in online education. Qualcomm isn't a stranger to the education arena. At a private correspondence school in Daigo-cho, Ibaraki, Japan, for example, high school students are using 3G-enabled smartphones and digital textbooks as part of a collaborative venture with Qualcomm. The goal is to give the students tools and content relevant to their lives to help motivate them to complete their education.
ABB takes on landmark pumped hydro storage project: The new pumped-storage power station in Nant de Drance, situated on the Swiss-French border between Martigny and Chamonix is expected to be one of the largest construction projects of its kind. The operator -- Nant de Drance SA with its partners plan to invest around $ 2.2 billion in the erection and installation of the power plant. The existing concrete dam of the upper reservoir, which is fed by waters of the Mont-Blanc massif, is being raised by 20 meters to double the capacity of the reservoirs to about 25 million cubic meters. Simultaneously, a new underground cavern deep under the reservoir is being carved out of the rock. As big as a cathedral, it will accommodate the entire electrical machinery for the production of electricity by 2018. The plant will be equipped with six generator circuit breakers and transformers from Council Associate Partner ABB to facilitate a safe and energy-efficient operation.
New IDB tool measures broadband penetration in LATAM: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a member of the Council's Advisory Board, this week launched DigiLAC, a new platform for measuring broadband penetration in Latin America. Latin America and the Caribbean lag far behind developed countries in broadband penetration, according to IDB. “In a modern society, broadband is the key ingredient of the public policy agenda for speeding up economic growth and reducing inequality,” said Antonio García-Zaballos, who is leading the IDB's broadband initiative. According to a recent IDB study, a 10% increase in penetration of broadband services carries with it average rise of 3.2% in Gross Domestic Product and 2.6 percentage points in productivity.