Thursday, 17 March 2011

48 hours to Avert Catastrophe.

Baltic Dry Index. 1538 -10

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000. Revised due to QE.

The Foreign Office responded to the latest developments by advising all British citizens to leave Tokyo – which is 140 miles south of the plant – and the whole of northern Japan.

TEPCO and Japan now have a massive credibility problem in the rest of the world, nothing they say seems to match what is happening on the ground. Ever more desperate measures are attempted to bring the 4 wrecked nuclear power plants under control, but with each passing day nothing seems to be working. Only a favorable western wind has presented a disaster of Tokyo’s teeming millions. Today’s latest bizarre operation is to have helicopters dumping water on top of the wrecked reactors. Quite why and what problem this is supposed to correct remains a mystery. TEPCO and Japan haven’t told the world what this is supposed to achieve or why it’s needed. Wherever the water goes, it’s not going to go into the secondary pressure container, let alone get into the inner container holding the fuel rods. There is a growing suspicion that TEPCO has lost complete control of the wrecked reactors and is merely going through the motions of a response, while awaiting a meltdown or breach of the primary containment vessel. Most countries rejected this GE design back in the early 70s as being unsafe, we can only thank God that they did and that that there aren’t hundreds of these nuke plants dotted around the world.

Below, this morning’s worrying update on 4 out of 6 reactors posing a threat to millions.

Japan nuclear plant: Just 48 hours to avoid 'another Chernobyl'

Japan has 48 hours to bring its rapidly escalating nuclear crisis under control before it faces a catastrophe “worse than Chernobyl”, it was claimed last night.

By Gordon Rayner and Martin Evans 10:52PM GMT 16 Mar 2011

Nuclear safety officials in France said they were “pessimistic” about whether engineers could prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant after a pool containing spent fuel rods overheated and boiled dry.

Last night radiation levels were “extremely high” in the stricken building, which was breached by an earlier explosion, meaning that radiation could now escape into the atmosphere. Tokyo Electric, the owners of the plant, said five workers had been killed at the site, two were missing and 21 had been injured.

Last night a US nuclear safety chief said that the Japanese government had failed to acknowledge the full seriousness of the situation at the Fukushima plant and that warnings to citizens had been insufficient and understated.

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, warned that if “extremely high” radiation levels increased it would become impossible for workers to continue to take “corrective measures” at the plant as they would be forced to flee.

As Japan resorted to increasingly desperate measures — including dumping water on the site from helicopters — there were accusations that the situation was now “out of control”.


U.S. Officials Alarmed By Japanese Handling of Nuclear Crisis

U.S. Officials Fear Fukushima Could Become 'Deadly For Decades'

By MARTHA RADDATZ March 16, 2011

U.S. officials are alarmed at how the Japanese are handling the escalating nuclear reactor crisis and fear that if they do not get control of the plants within the next 24 to 48 hours they could have a situation that will be "deadly for decades."

"It would be hard to describe how alarming this is right now," one U.S. official told ABC News.

President Obama has been briefed by nuclear experts.

The Japanese have evacuated most of the reactor personnel from the Fukushima nuclear complex and are rotating teams of 50 workers through the facility in an attempt to cool it down.

"We are all-out urging the Japanese to get more people back in there to do emergency operation there, that the next 24 to 48 hours are critical," the official said. "Urgent efforts are needed on the part of the Japanese to restore emergency operations to cool" down the reactors' rods before they trigger a meltdown.

"They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission," the official said.

The official said the United States is in very deep consultations with Japanese about the way forward and that the only thing that has been favorable is the wind pattern that is blowing the contaminated material out to sea instead south towards Tokyo and other populated areas, but that can't be counted upon.


Japan earthquake: Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables show

Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal.

By Steven Swinford, and Christopher Hope 9:30PM GMT 15 Mar 2011

An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations.

The Japanese government pledged to upgrade safety at all of its nuclear plants, but will now face inevitable questions over whether it did enough.

While it responded to the warnings by building an emergency response centre at the Fukushima plant, it was only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors. Friday's devastating earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 shock.

The news is likely to put further pressure on Japan's Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, who has been criticised for "dithering" over the country's response to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Panic started to spread throughout Japan yesterday following the news that a third explosion at the plant might have damaged the protective casing around the reactor core, increasing the threat of radioactive leaks.

-----Warnings about the safety of nuclear power plants in Japan, one of the most seismologically active countries in the world, were raised during a meeting of the G8's Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo in 2008.

A US embassy cable obtained by the WikiLeaks website and seen by The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed expert who expressed concern that guidance on how to protect nuclear power stations from earthquakes had only been updated three times in the past 35 years.


G-7 to Hold Urgent Talks on Japan Quake, Global Markets

By Toru Fujioka and Aki Ito - Mar 17, 2011 5:47 AM GMT

Group of Seven nations finance chiefs will hold talks on financial markets and Japan’s economy tomorrow, after the March 11 earthquake triggered a drop in global stocks and drove the nation’s currency to a post World War II high.

The discussions will begin at 7 a.m. Tokyo time and will encompass currencies and Japan will brief officials on the damage to the nation’s economy, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters in the capital today. The yen’s climb today is driven by speculation and the government is monitoring its moves, Economy Minister Kaoru Yosano said.

Japanese stocks pared losses and the yen weakened as the announcement raised the prospect of coordinated global action to prevent the disaster from crippling the world’s third-largest economy. The yen earlier strengthened to 76.36 to the dollar and bond risk soared as workers raced to avert a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant north of Tokyo.


The High Price of Merkel's Nuclear About-Face


First, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a three-month moratorium on her government's plan to extend the lifespans of German nuclear power plants. Now, the chancellor has elected to shut down seven of the country's oldest reactors. At least one of them is to remain offline permanently.

"Safety is the priority," Merkel said in her announcement on Tuesday. "Those are the criteria by which we acted today."

The move is likely to be an expensive one. According to an estimate produced for SPIEGEL ONLINE by atomic energy expert Wolfgang Pfaffenberger from Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany's energy companies stand to lose up to €575 million ($803 million) as a result of the three-month shutdown. The seven reactors affected -- all of which were constructed prior to 1980 -- generate revenues estimated at €2.3 billion per year.

What that might mean for energy prices in Germany remains unclear. Manuel Frondel, an energy expert with the Rhineland-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research, told the mass-circulation tabloid Bild that consumers may be in for a price increase of up to 10 percent or more.

The German Association of Energy and Water Industries agrees. The group issued a statement on Tuesday saying "when a cheap energy source is phased out more rapidly (than planned), the prices will also climb to a greater degree than expected."

Can Germany Meet Its CO2 Reduction Goals?

Sigmar Gabriel, head of the opposition Social Democrats, fears that Merkel's moratorium could also be expensive for German taxpayers and accused her of making a deal with the country's nuclear power industry. Legally, he said, Germany's reactor operators can demand compensation from Berlin given that the plants are not at accute risk. While Gabriel allowed that the plants likely wouldn't demand such compensation, he said "they will certainly demand recompense for waiving their rights."

Merkel's decision marks a notable about-face for the German chancellor with the conservative Christian Democrats, whose government just last autumn agreed to suspend the nuclear phase-out pushed through by her predecessor in the Chancellery, Gerhard Schröder of the center-left Social Democrats. But Germans, historically nervous about nuclear energy technology, have reacted with fear and concern to the increasingly grim news from Japan, where workers continue trying to avert a complete nuclear meltdown at several reactors belonging to the Fukushima I plant on the country's east coast.


In other news, the west seems to be abandoning the idea of democracy in Libya and Bahrain, fearful of what might then happen next in critical oil exporter Saudi Arabia. My guess is that the USA propping up wobbly regimes will just backfire. A straight gift to wannabe al Qaeeda’s and the militant wing of the Moslem Brotherhood. Not that the Gaddafis and the al Khalifas are likely to be impressed with the west, or likely to retain power for long. A bad situation just appears to me to be getting worse. Western dithering leaves the west falling between two stools. For all their huffing and puffing, NATO, the EU and America are made to look like paper tigers, afraid of their own shadow in the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan. Stay long precious metals. Paper tigers fiat currencies have little future.

Libya: Gaddafi confident of 'finishing the job' in 48 hours

The Gaddafi regime on Wednesday taunted the West over its failure to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and said it would "finish the job" of defeating the insurrection against its rule by Friday.

By Richard Spencer, Tripoli, Rob Crilly in Benghazi, Nabila Ramdani in Paris and Andrew Porter, Political Editor 9:00PM GMT 16 Mar 2011

As Col Muammar Gaddafi's troops advanced towards the rebel capital, Benghazi, Saif al-Islam, his son, told "traitors and mercenaries" to flee the country or face the consequences.

"We don't want to kill, we don't want revenge, but you, traitors, mercenaries, you have committed crimes against the Libyan people," he said, in an interview. "Leave, go in peace to Egypt." Asked about continuing British and French attempts to persuade the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone, he answered: "Military operations are over. Within 48 hours everything will be finished. Our forces are almost in Benghazi. Whatever the decision, it will be too late."

The failure on Tuesday by the G8 group of nations to agree military intervention in Libya is said to have "perplexed" Downing Street. An immediate decision was opposed by China and Russia but even the United States failed to come out in support of the idea.


Government tells Britons to flee Bahrain

Britain will send charter planes to help its citizens leave Bahrain as soon as possible, officials said on Wednesday, with an uprising and deadly clashes surging in the kingdom.

11:45PM GMT 16 Mar 2011

The Foreign Office advised Britons in Bahrain to remain at home on Wednesday evening and make their way to the airport on Thursday.

It said in a statement that Britons should try to buy tickets for commercial flights out of the country, and that the British government will charter planes to evacuate anyone who cannot get on a commercial flight.

Foreign Secretary William Hague also said he had spoken to Bahrain's foreign minister about the violence engulfing the country.

"The U.K. remains seriously concerned about today's clashes with protesters and reports of several casualties," Mr Hague said.

----A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the precise number of British nationals in Bahrain was not known, but estimated it was "several thousand".

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday, final figures were: Registered 41.05 Moz, Eligible 60.60 Moz, Total 101.66 Moz.


Crooks and Scoundrels Corner.

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

No crooks today, just the opposite. Today a US report that clearly suggests that gene therapy will become an effective treatment for many debilitating diseases caused by defective genes. This decade promises a major advance in many diseases. Below, the almost unread Independent covers the beat.

Gene therapy proven to work in treatment of Parkinson's disease

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor Thursday, 17 March 2011

Scientists have proved for the first time that gene therapy is an effective treatment for Parkinson's disease, the progressive disorder of the nervous system which causes tremors, delayed movements and rigidity.

Patients who had a gene that controls the chemical responsible for co-ordinating movement put directly into their brains experienced significant improvement in their ability to control their hands, get up and walk.

It is the first time a randomised, double blind trial has demonstrated the effectiveness of the therapy in Parkinson's disease, which affects 120,000 people in the UK.

By replacing defective genes with properly functioning ones, gene therapy could, in theory, correct the basis of many diseases. Moreover, a single treatment should have lifelong effects, removing the need for daily treatment with drugs or regular check-ups.

Scientists said the latest advance demonstrated that the therapy could work for a range of neurological disorders. Professor Adrian Thrasher, president of the British Society of Gene Therapy, said: "It has proved extremely efficacious in blood disorders and in disorders of the retina. Using genes in the treatment of disease does have great potential."

American scientists conducted the trial on 45 patients in the US. Half had burr holes drilled into their skulls and a solution containing the gene, called GAD, and a harmless virus, AAV2, infused into an area of the brain called the subthalamic nucleus.

The AAV2 virus was used to carry the gene into the cells by infecting them. The virus is thought to be safe – more than 80 per cent of the population have been exposed to it and it is not known to cause any disease – but its long-term effects in the brain are not known.

The remaining half of the patients were the control group. They had sham surgery – the burr holes were drilled halfway through their skulls and were washed with catheters carrying saline solution in the same way as the treatment group.

The brain has no sensation and although all the patients in both groups were awake during the procedure, they were unable to tell whether they had received the genuine infusion or the sham version.

The results showed patients who received the gene therapy had twice the improvement in motor control compared with the sham surgery group after six months – an average gain of 23.1 per cent on the Parkinson's rating scale against 12.7 per cent.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February:

DJIA: +156 Down 05. NASDAQ: +217 Down 11. SP500: +157 Down 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment