Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Baltic Dry Index. 1572 -13

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

"My view of nuclear energy has been changed by events in Japan, we simply cannot go back to business as usual."

Angela Merkel

The Fukushima crisis may be playing second fiddle in the media to the more media friendly new Libyan war, but the consequences for the global economy continue ratcheting up and will all too soon be with us as Germany moves to permanently close its oldest 7 nuclear reactors. But first this update from Japan. One reactor is believed to have melted like Three Mile Island, with the other 3 close to doing the same.

If a part can be installed incorrectly, it will be.

Murphy's Law

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'

Ian Sample , science correspondent Tuesday 29 March 2011 16.53 BST

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."


30 March 2011 Last updated at 07:03

Japan nuclear: Fukushima seawater radioactivity rises

Seawater near Japan's quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has a much higher level of radiation than previously reported, officials say.

In one section, radioactive iodine stood at 3,355 times the legal limit, said Japan's nuclear safety agency.

However, an official said the iodine would have deteriorated considerably by the time it reached people.

Meanwhile, the president of the Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tepco has been admitted to hospital.

Masataka Shimizu is being treated for high blood pressure and dizziness, a Tepco spokesperson said.

Mr Shimizu has barely been seen in public since the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March which damaged the Fukushima plant.

Tepco's Damaged Reactors May Take 30 Years, $12 Billion to Scrap

By Shigeru Sato, Yuji Okada and Tsuyoshi Inajima - Mar 30, 2011

Damaged reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant may take three decades to decommission and cost operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. more than 1 trillion yen ($12 billion), engineers and analysts said.

Four of the plant’s six reactors became useless when sea water was used to cool them after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out generators running its cooling systems. The entire station north of Tokyo will likely be decommissioned, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said yesterday.

The damaged reactors need to be demolished after they have cooled and radioactive materials are removed and stored, said Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear researcher at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan. The process will take longer than the 12 years needed to decommission the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania following a partial meltdown, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.

“Lack of public support may force the decommissioning of all six reactors,” said Daniel Aldrich, a political science professor at Purdue University in Indiana. Tepco “will try to salvage two if it can find public support, which may be unlikely.”

Kan yesterday blamed inadequate tsunami defenses at the plant for the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, saying that the safety standards set by the utility known as Tepco were too low. Efforts to cool fuel rods at the four reactors have been hindered by detection of radiation levels that can prove fatal for a person exposed for several hours.

----The Fukushima reactors may take about three decades to decommission, based on Japan’s sole attempt to dismantle a commercial reactor, said Murakami of the Institute of Energy Economics.

Japan Atomic Power Co. began decommissioning a 166-megawatt reactor at Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture near Tokyo in 1998 after the unit had completed 32 years of operations, according to documents posted on the company’s website. The project will be completed by March 2021, or after 23 years of work, and cost 88.5 billion yen, the documents show.

Next, why does my new smart phone glow? Japan’s exports look likely to take a serious hit.

Consumer Fears Could Add to Japan's Economic Challenges

By Wieland Wagner 03/29/2011

With factories destroyed and ongoing power outages, Japan's economy is in dire straits. Japanese companies may also face the challenge of convincing customers that their products are not contaminated with radiation in the wake of dangerous radioactive releases.

----But then came Fukushima and the images that have shocked the world ever since. Suddenly Japan is no longer just the victim of random forces of nature like earthquakes and tsunamis. Now the once-admired high-tech nation is showing the world that it is unable to control a technology that has spun out of control.

Instead of the robots that carmakers Toyota and Honda proudly tout in their advertising, Japan is sending defenseless firemen and police officers armed with water canons into the irradiated ruins of Fukushima. Working under conditions that pose a danger to life and health, they are desperately trying to cool down the overheated reactors.

Fukushima -- this eerie word now hangs like a collective curse over Japanese industry, and no advertising campaign, no matter how clever, will make people forget it anytime soon. "This is a long-term challenge for our country," says Yasunari Ueno, chief economist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Will Radioactivity Make 'Made in Japan' a Tough Sell?

Japanese corporations from Sony to Toyota agree. Out of reverence for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, they have cancelled commercials and print advertising campaigns. But they also know that it will be difficult to win over customers for products that are made in Japan. As if the natural disaster hadn't harmed these companies enough already, they may be forced to think of ways to calm consumers' fears of radiation -- even if those concerns may seem exaggerated to the Japanese.

Although quantities of Japanese exports of spinach, milk and bottled water to Europe are negligable, how do the Japanese intend to guarantee that their mobile phones, computers and cars do not contain parts that are contaminated with radiation?


Below, the UK’s deputy Prime Minister doubts that with all the extra regulation and costs coming to the nuclear power industry in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, that any of the UK’s planned 10 new nuclear power plants will get built. Nuclear simply isn’t going to be economic he thinks. Sounds like another massive public subsidy job to me, on top of all the other public subsidies that nuclear power already gets.

Nick Clegg: Britain's proposed nuclear plants may not be built

The next generation of nuclear power stations may never be built because they will be too expensive following the Japanese tsunami, Nick Clegg has suggested.

By Rosa Prince 10:46PM BST 29 Mar 2011

The Deputy Prime Minister cast doubt on the future for nuclear power by predicting that a review into existing plants – ordered after the explosion at the Fukushima power station — would recommend higher and more costly safety standards.

The Liberal Democrat leader insisted that no extra government money would be found to meet additional costs and suggested that energy firms would struggle to raise investment from the private sector as a result of the Japanese near-meltdown.

His remarks, made in a briefing to journalists on a visit to Mexico, throw into doubt the future of Britain’s energy supply.

The Government has given provisional approval to the building of at least 10 new nuclear reactors, costing around £50 billion each, at eight sites as part of the pledge to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent in coming decades. Experts have cast doubt on the capacity of the oil, gas and coal sectors to fill the energy gap if the 19 existing reactors are not replaced as they age over the next decade.

The Lib Dems had long opposed nuclear power but agreed in Coalition negotiations last year that existing power stations could be renewed as long as no public funds were involved. They demanded that energy firms no longer benefit from generous public subsidies and be self-funding. Now Mr Clegg believes the extra costs of protecting the new plants could prove unsustainable.

In Germany, following Sunday’s election disaster for the ruling coalition, new nuclear power has become a dead issue. Existing nuclear power plants are now about to get closed down permanently, but who is going to get the gigantic bill? My guess is it’s the German taxpayers, and if it is, this will curtail German’s willingness to forever bailout the easy going, work shy lifestyle of Club Med.

Fighting the Nuclear Shutdown 03/29/2011

German Reactor Operators Weigh Legal Action

Following the center-right election debacle in state votes on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is moving to make the temporary shutdown of seven aging nuclear reactors permanent. But she may encounter stiff resistance from plant operators.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's announcement came quickly. Just days after the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami crippled several nuclear reactors at the Fukushima facility in northeastern Japan, she announced an immediate, three-month shutdown of Germany's oldest reactors pending strict safety checks.

"If in a highly developed country like Japan, a country with high safety standards and safety requirements, nuclear consequences from an earthquake and a tsunami can't be prevented," she said, "this has consequences for the whole world, it has consequences for Europe and it has consequences for us in Germany."

Increasingly, it looks as though the temporary shutdown may become permanent. Several center-right German politicians, including Merkel herself on Monday, have indicated a profound change of heart when it comes to nuclear power. And on Tuesday, her coalition partners in Berlin, the business-friendly (and formerly atomic energy-friendly) Free Democrats (FDP) said they hoped that eight German reactors would be permanently taken offline.

But the schedule for such a shutdown may be up to the courts to decide. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, German energy giants RWE and E.on are looking into legal measures to block any permanent order.

RWE lawyers say stock ownership laws leave them little option but to file for damages, according to SPIEGEL's information. The deadline for complaints is approaching; they must be filed with authorities by the second week in April.

----While concern over the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima fueled Merkel's shutdown order two weeks ago, this week's political flight from atomic energy is the direct result of Sunday elections in Baden-W├╝rttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. In both states, the environmentalist -- and anti-nuclear -- Green Party made large gains. By contrast, the CDU and FDP, which pushed through an extension of reactor lifespans last autumn, did poorly.

"That was a vote over the future of atomic energy," said FDP leader Guido Westerwelle, who is also Germany's foreign minister, in a standard interpretation of the election results. "We have understood.",1518,753903,00.html#ref=nlint

John Allen Paulos has observed, "people generally worry only about what happens one or two steps ahead and anticipate being able to get out before a collapse... In countless situations people prepare exclusively for near-term outcomes and don't look very far ahead. They myopically discount the future at an absurdly steep rate."

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday, final figures were: Registered 41.78 Moz, Eligible 62.73 Moz, Total 104.51 Moz.


Crooks and Scoundrels Corner.

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

No crooks today, as the LIR does its bit for the UK’s wannabe posers. Today we try to help the UK’s get the right man (or woman???) Note: the applicant must be able to dress right for the car and the bus.

Straights are for fast cars. Turns are for fast drivers.


Wanted: supercar driver (boy racers need not apply)

The glamour, the speed, the envious glances, the thrill of driving a supercar... and the ignominy of getting the bus home.

By David Williams 2:41PM BST 29 Mar 2011

It's the motoring job of the century – the chance to become a supercar collection and delivery driver, with licence to handle some of the hottest cars ever built.

The downside? Each two-way journey means either a bus ride to the client's address before picking up the keys to motoring nirvana... or riding back to base from a customer's home on the train.

Applicants for the position will be expected to have a full, clean licence and at least 10 years' experience of handing high-performance vehicles. The successful candidate will be based at's offices in Staffordshire but will have to be prepared to travel throughout the UK and Europe when collecting and delivering vehicles to customers.

"They will also be expected to make their own way back to base from any corner of the UK and Europe – using public transport," said a company spokesman.

"This is a highly specialised role which requires a very special talent," said a spokesman for "We are seeking a driver who understands and has direct experience of driving some of the world's highest performing motor cars.

"Driving something like a Bugatti Veyron is a very different experience from driving a Ford Focus. The driver has to understand what's under the bonnet and how the car responds to its controls. Many of these vehicles are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds so it goes without saying that we are looking for a safe pair of hands here. This isn't a job for a boy racer.

Cars maintained through the website in the past year have included Aston Martins, Pagani Zondas, Ferrari 599s and Bugatti Veyrons. The job comes with a salary in the region of £30,000 as well as expenses including reimbursed bus and train tickets.

Drive carefully! Remember, it's not only a car that can be recalled by its maker.


The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February:

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

No comments:

Post a Comment