Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Confusion. Spin.

Baltic Dry Index. 1548 -11

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

Nearly half a million people have been evacuated in Miyagi and surrounding prefectures, with thousands taking refuge in makeshift shelters. Water and power supplies remain cut off in about 1.5 million households. "The shops are running out of food so we're giving them water, bread as well as blankets," said Moto Otsuka, spokesman for the prefecture. "The main issue for most people is trying to contact their family members. Communications are still not working."

This morning the nuclear disaster slowly unfolding in Japan gets more confusing with each passing day. Spin is now replacing facts. The nuclear industry spokesmen are now trying the line that this is a triumph for the industry. A 40 year old nuke plant took an unprecedented earthquake, an unexpectedly large tsunami, and still the containment systems worked largely as planned. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play? I doubt that this spin cuts much ice with the public or the nuclear regulators all around the planet. An earthquake of a size that couldn’t happen, happened. A tsunami of a size that wouldn’t occur, occured. Hydrogen explosions that wouldn’t happen because the gas would be vented , happened. Cooling systems failed, but that couldn’t happen either, there were redundant systems. Fires have broken out, but no one yet knows quite what was burning or for how long. A 12 mile exclusion zone now exists around the nuclear ground zero, but thousands are fleeing Tokyo 150 miles away. No estimate yet exists on the eventual cleanup cost, nor the time it will take, nor who exactly will pay for it, or how. It is still far from certain that the radiation release won’t get worse. If this is a triumph for the nuclear industry spare us an industry disaster. Those advocating nuclear business as usual, would potentially pollute the planet for the sake of their cheque from the industry.

Realistically, new nuclear plants face increased scrutiny in the planning stages, and vastly increased costs in building in additional redundancy. Greatly increased costs in ensuring that new sites are far from potential earthquake fault zones. Existing plants face new unplanned costs from coming safety additional upgrades. If thousands of hapless Japanese get covered in radiation before this all ends, it will be the death of the industry outside of “life is cheap”, India and China. Even there, enlightened regulators might still require costly revisions. While it is still too early to draw final conclusions on what this will mean for the fate of the nuclear industry, only a fool would think that this rolling disaster helps.

March 16, 2011, 1:11 a.m. EDT

Japan battles to contain nuclear crisis

Blaze is latest blow to strike crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

TOKYO (MarketWatch) — Japan fought to avert nuclear catastrophe Wednesday as workers faced a new fire and a possible breach of another reactor’s containment system at the stricken Fukushima power plan.

A fire broke out at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Wednesday morning. Japanese authorities informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that a fire in that reactor building was visually observed, but was no longer observable half an hour later.

Smoke or steam also rose from reactor No. 3, and another spike in radiation levels was also observed on Wednesday, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

Edano said the most likely explanation for the sudden rise was an emission of radioactive steam from the containment vessel of reactor 3, but he added that this was not yet confirmed. The government’s nuclear safety agency said the radiation level reached 10 millisievert per hour at the plant’s entrance at 10:40 a.m.

Workers were briefly ordered to withdraw after the radiation levels spiked, Kyodo news reported, but were allowed back into the plant about an hour later after radiation levels fell.

The series of events on Wednesday renewed fears in Japan and around the world that the nuclear crisis in Japan might be spiraling out of control and complicated the country’s efforts to rescue survivors of Friday’s deadly earthquake and tsunami.


Japan Says 2nd Reactor May Have Ruptured With Radioactive Release

TOKYO — Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified again Wednesday, with Japanese authorities announcing that a containment vessel in a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan may have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam. That would be the second vessel to be compromised in two days.

The vessel had appeared to be the last fully intact line of defense against large-scale releases of radioactive materials from that reactor, but it was not clear how serious the possible breach might be.

The announcement came after Japanese broadcasters showed live footage of thick plumes of steam rising above the plant.

Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said the government believed the steam was coming from the No. 3 reactor, where an explosion on Monday blew out part of the building surrounding the containment vessel.

The reactor has three layers of protection: that building; the containment vessel, and the metal cladding around fuel rods, which are inside the reactor. The government has said that those rods at the No. 3 reactor were likely already damaged.

-----Earlier in the morning, the company that runs the plant reported that a fire was burning at a different reactor, just hours after officials said flames that erupted Tuesday had been doused.

A government official at Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency soon after said that flames and smoke were no longer visible, but he cautioned that it was unclear if the fire, at the Reactor No. 4 building, had died out. He also was not clear if it was a new fire or if the fire Tuesday had never gone out.


Fukushima nuke plant situation 'worsened considerably': think tank

WASHINGTON, March 15, Kyodo

The situation at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in northeastern Japan ''has worsened considerably,'' the Institute for Science and International Security said in a statement released Tuesday.

Referring to fresh explosions that occurred earlier in the day at the site and problems in a pool storing spent nuclear fuel rods, the Washington-based think tank said, ''This accident can no longer be viewed as a level 4 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events scale that ranks events from 1 to 7.''

Noting that a level 4 incident involves ''only local radiological consequences,'' it said the ongoing crisis is ''now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7'' -- a worst case scenario with extensive health and environmental consequences.

''The international community should increase assistance to Japan to both contain the emergency at the reactors and to address the wider contamination. We need to find a solution together,'' it said.

Fukushima: Mark 1 Nuclear Reactor Design Caused GE Scientist To Quit In Protest

Damaged Japanese Nuclear Plant Has Five Mark 1 Reactors

By MATTHEW MOSK March 15, 2011

Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.

Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."

The situation on the ground at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is so fluid, and the details of what is unfolding are so murky, that it may be days or even weeks before anyone knows how the Mark 1 containment system performed in the face of a devastating combination of natural disasters.


It is also too soon to want to jump into our gyrating stock markets. While the great vampire squids fight for the spoils of front running the central banks, it is far from clear of the extent of the damage to the Japanese economy. It is far from clear what drag effect the Japanese economy will have on the global economy. Worse, it is far from certain that after such a massive earthquake along a 300 mile section of fault, other sections further south won’t suffer very large aftershocks. This is a time to let the central banks take the market risk. It’s only fiat money to them after all.

Due to travel today, today’s LIR is brief. More tomorrow.

Many cities have been forced to divert dwindling supplies and power to overwhelmed hospitals and community centres. Patients in the Ishinomaku Red Cross Hospital in Miyagi spill out into the corridors and halls, as doctors struggle to cope. On the floors and slumped in wheelchairs, elderly people have begun dying after being evacuated from the quake-and tsunami-stricken areas. With food and other supplies running out, panic-buying has also hit stores in Tokyo and other large cities. Around the country there are queues hundreds of cars long for petrol, which is being rationed in some places to less than 10 litres.

Thousands of schools have been closed and factories and businesses are operating reduced hours to save on power. Japan's Meteorological Agency is also warning that another large earthquake is likely in the next few days. Foreign workers in Tokyo have already begun leaving the capital, in some cases on the advice of their embassies.

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday, 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. Well they’re still around but getting a pass until tomorrow.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February:

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

No comments:

Post a Comment