Israel's New High-Tech Fence

Israel is stepping up efforts to complete a high-tech border fence along its border with Egypt following terrorist attacks on Aug. 18 that killed eight Israelis. The 230-kilometer fence, originally set for completion sometime in 2013, now will be finished by the end of 2012, according to defense and finance ministry officials. About 45 km of the structure has been built. The $400-million project began in 2010, designed to keep out migrant workers who have flooded into Israel from the Sinai in recent years. However, Israel is now even more concerned about a growing security threat from the same area. Earlier this month, the defense ministry issued a tender for excavation work along the route of the fence. The structure includes electronic sensors that detect intrusions. A smooth strip of sand runs parallel to the fence to detect footprints. Two Israeli defense companies are expected to provide most of the perimeter security equipment for the project. The ministry officials say that the decision to expedite construction is likely to have an impact on the overall price of the project.

Nuclear Power

TVA green-lights construction of unfinished reactor

The Tennessee Valley Authority's board of directors voted unanimously Aug.18 to complete construction of the partially built 1,260-MW Bellefonte nuclear unit 1. TVA estimates it will cost $4.9 billion to complete the Hollywood, Ala., reactor, which was begun in 1974. Work on the project stopped in 1988 because of rising construction costs and declining need. TVA already has invested about $1.9 billion on the unit. The board agreed not to restart construction on the unit until fuel loading is complete at Watts Bar 2 nuclear unit in Spring City, Tenn. Fuel loading will signal the end of reconstruction of that plant, which is being completed by San Francisco-based Bechtel. TVA has a policy that it can only be working on three nuclear projects, in different phases, at the same time. Construction on Bellefonte could begin as early as 2013 and is expected to be complete by 2018, though it is not expected to be in service until 2020. TVA has not hired a contractor to finish Bellefonte 1. A TVA spokesman said there is not yet a timetable for letting that contract. Last year, TVA awarded France-based Areva a $248-million contract to complete preliminary engineering, begin licensing and procure long-lead materials for the project.