Consumer Reports names Huntsville Hospital one of best in nation for knee replacement surgery

HUNTSVILLE HOSPITALHuntsville Hospital. (Eric Schultz | eschultz@al.com)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Huntsville Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the country to have knee replacement surgery, according to Consumer Reports.

Huntsville Hospital was among 128 hospitals to receive the magazine’s highest rating. It was one of just two in Alabama to make that list.

A total of 1,068 hospitals earned an average rating and 186 received the lowest rating the magazine offers, according to a news release from the hospital.

“We are very excited about this new rating and what it means for the hospital,” said Thomas Fender, the hospital’s vice president of operations for its surgical service. “Our joint program is supported by an exceptional team of nurses and surgeons, and we hope the people of north Alabama will take advantage of our close to home, excellent program.”

Consumer Reports awards its surgery ratings as part of an ongoing effort to use data to help consumers compare hospitals and make informed choices about healthcare.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/01/consumer_reports_names_huntsvi.html

Federal regulators hosting meeting tonight on Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant safety performance

browns ferry for moduleTVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. (AP photo) 

ATHENS, Alabama — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will host a meeting at 7 p.m. today in Athens to update the public on how well TVA is doing in trying to improve the safety culture and work performance at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant.

The meeting will be in the second floor conference room of the Clinton Street Courthouse Annex, 100 S. Clinton St., in Athens. NRC officials will discuss the results of recent inspections and the current NRC assessment of the plant’s safety performance. NRC officials will also take questions from the public.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry plant near Athens is America’s largest nuclear plant. Browns Ferry has three operating reactors and it has been under strict scrutiny from the NRC since regulators issued a “red finding” in 2011 after the fall 2010 discovery of a 600-pound valve blocking the primary emergency cooling line at Unit 1 at the plant. TVA cited poor manufacturing, but the NRC found it was TVA’s own inadequate testing, that let the blocked line sit undiscovered for years.

The NRC determined that the broken valve would have prevented TVA from successfully implementing its shutdown procedure at the plant in the event of a fire.

The red finding signals a problem of high safety significance, according to the NRC, and TVA has embarked on a major effort to improve operations at the plant.

The NRC sent a 23-member team of inspectors to Browns Ferry in May. TVA had spent the previous two years working to improve the plant’s safety culture, Browns Ferry’s corrective action program, safety system reliability planning and how officials managed work at the plant.

During an August briefing NRC regulators reported they had found progress at Browns Ferry but TVA needed to continue to improve and sustain a high performance level.

TVA had budgeted $140 million through 2015 for plant improvements but the NRC team reported in August the red finding would remain in place until more progress was made.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/01/federal_regulators_to_discuss.html

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant ‘red finding’ removed, but plant still under intensive inspection status

browns ferry for moduleTVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (AP photo) 

ATHENS, Alabama — Federal regulators have removed a critical “red” finding from TVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, but the plant remains in a state of heightened inspections due to other problems.

The announcement that Browns Ferry, America’s largest nuclear plant, had completed work related to the 2011 red finding that identified a significant safety problem, was made during a public meeting hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Athens tonight.

Browns Ferry remains in the NRC’s Column 4, which means a heightened inspection regimen for Browns Ferry’s Unit 1 reactor. Regulators will monitor plant operations, safety culture, maintenance, equipment reliability and work planning. The Category  scoring system reflects a number of problems or safe operations over a defined period of time.

Victor McCree, the Atlanta-based regional administrator for the NRC, said the red finding removal shows TVA has made progress, but needs to do more.

“We’ve seen areas of significantly improved performance, but is there still room for improvement? Yes,” McCree said, Browns Ferry’s upgraded procedures and a new approach to addressing equipment reliability. “But TVA didn’t arrive at this point overnight. There were a number of years where they didn’t take care of the plant equipment well enough, they didn’t invest in people, procedures or processes.

“It will take some time to see sustained performance, but they’re on the right track. They need to continue to invest.”

Regulators issued a “red finding” in 2011 after the fall 2010 discovery of a 600-pound valve blocking the primary emergency cooling line at Unit 1 at the plant. TVA cited poor manufacturing, but the NRC found it was TVA’s own inadequate testing, that let the blocked line sit undiscovered for years.

The NRC determined that the broken valve would have prevented TVA from successfully implementing its shutdown procedure at the plant in the event of a fire.

The inspection results reported today indicate TVA has taken the necessary steps to address the issues that contributed to the problem and has a plan in place to prevent it from happening again.

Keith Polson, site vice president for Browns Ferry, said TVA is committed to not only making the improvements called for by the NRC, but sustaining its performance with an improved safety culture, accountability, upgraded procedures and a program that ensures equipment reliability. Polson said TVA is also committed to meeting increased fire safety standards.

Polson pointed that the plant’s three reactors had no problems meeting power demand during the recent snap of bitterly cold weather.

In leaving Browns Ferry Unit 1 in its Column 4 – Column 5 is unacceptable performance – the NRC cited reliability problems related to a high pressure injection system that is central to the plant’s safety cooling system. McCree said the system had problems identified last January in both starting and staying on during testing. The NRC’s grading system faults a utility for the number of hours a given critical system is unavailable.

Browns Ferry was also marked down due to the need to upgrade its diesel generators The eight huge diesel generators that are needed in case of a loss of off-site power. The generators needed significant maintenance and TVA has undertaken that effort. McCree said the program to improve the generators was the right thing to do and will benefit TVA in the long run, but the recorded downtime during the maintenance was also counted against TVA.

Both of those problems fell under the “white finding” category, less serious than a red finding, but multiple white findings can also lead to a plant being placed, or remaining in the Column 4.

McCree said the current Column 4 standing will likely be changed  over time as TVA continues to make improvements and the downtime problems associated with the downtime cycle out. 

Updated at 11 p.m. to correct TVA column class term.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/01/tva.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


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Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


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The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

Mobile business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


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Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


DuckCommander.jpg

The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

Birmingham business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


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 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

Consumer Reports names Huntsville Hospital one of best in nation for knee replacement surgery

HUNTSVILLE HOSPITALHuntsville Hospital. (Eric Schultz | eschultz@al.com)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Huntsville Hospital is one of the best hospitals in the country to have knee replacement surgery, according to Consumer Reports.

Huntsville Hospital was among 128 hospitals to receive the magazine’s highest rating. It was one of just two in Alabama to make that list.

A total of 1,068 hospitals earned an average rating and 186 received the lowest rating the magazine offers, according to a news release from the hospital.

“We are very excited about this new rating and what it means for the hospital,” said Thomas Fender, the hospital’s vice president of operations for its surgical service. “Our joint program is supported by an exceptional team of nurses and surgeons, and we hope the people of north Alabama will take advantage of our close to home, excellent program.”

Consumer Reports awards its surgery ratings as part of an ongoing effort to use data to help consumers compare hospitals and make informed choices about healthcare.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2014/01/consumer_reports_names_huntsvi.html