Quantum Pranx

ECONOMICS AND ESOTERICA FOR A NEW PARADIGM

Archive for the ‘Japan earthquake’ Category

Fukushima: It’s much worse than you think

leave a comment »

by Dahr Jamail
Posted on al Jazeera on 16 Jun 2011

Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public

“FUKUSHIMA IS THE BIGGEST INDUSTRIAL CATASTROPHE in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera. Japan’s 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed. “Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water – as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of. “The problem is how to keep it cool,” says Gundersen. “They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?”

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling. “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive “hot spots” around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting. “We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,” said Gundersen. “The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Where is the recovery? I cannot seem to find it

leave a comment »

by Tony Pallotta of Macro Story
Originally posted June 13, 2011

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

POSSIBLY THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN HAVING a serious problem on your hands is when you clearly do not understand the problem.  You ignore the data and find an easy scapegoat for why the problem is temporary and will pass. The slowdown in the US economy is not transitory as the Fed chairman states. Hopes for 3-4% GDP growth in the second half of 2011 are simply that, hope.

The earthquake in Japan, the third largest economy, occurred two months before US economic data began slowing sharply. It is easy to say that must be the cause. It is far harder to blame failed policies for that involves being honest with oneself. Accepting failure is everyone’s Achilles’ heel.  Something few can overcome.

What is most disturbing about the failed policies of the Federal Reserve and Federal Government are the millions of Americans suffering when they do not have to. With one in seven Americans on food stamps, one in five unemployed or under employed, 28% of mortgages underwater, do leaders truly think we are this naive and that recovery is underway?

In a recent survey 48% of Americans feel we are already in a depression, forget recession. Regardless of what the NBER says or measures of real GDP, something easily manipulated through the deflator, it feels and therefore it is a depression. Food prices are rising. It costs more to fill up our gas tank. Walmart and countless other low cost stores bare witness to the modern day bread line.

If the US government reduced spending by 40% today, right this second, we still could not put a dent in a $12 trillion national debt, closer to $70 trillion when factoring in unfunded liabilities. The government nearly shut down in May as leaders tried to agree on 1% in budget cuts later found to be a pure accounting scheme. All is not well in the US economy and a recovery is not and has not begun. Trillions have been spent since 2008 and we have nothing to show for it.

Ask a child wearing a red shirt what color their shirt is. They will shout red. Ask that same question to an adult and they will hesitate, afraid to answer the most obvious question out of fear they are being set up. As adults we seem to lose the ability to see the obvious. We live in constant fear of being wrong, being judged by others for our inadequacies. Rather than focus on the task at hand we focus on the failure. The safety of going along with the group outweighs the truth we see with our own eyes.

Ask a fund manager with $5 billion in assets under management (AUM) if the economy is recovering and they will say yes. They will say this soft patch is transitory, it is a function of Japan and the revolution in MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa). They will tell you Greece is contained.  They will tell you housing is bottoming. They will tell you stocks are cheap.

Do they believe that? Aside from group think I certainly hope not but if the group says that red shirt you are wearing is in fact blue, well dammit, that shirt is blue. No one believes they are a lemming, that they are part of the herd. The word sheeple does not include them. Then why does history always show the majority to be wrong?

As the market rolls over investors are beginning to question the color of that shirt. Perhaps it is red after all. The Federal Reserve has a horrible record at economic forecasting, absolutely horrid yet with each new forecast we are expected to believe “this time it is different.”  With each passing day more data tells us they are wrong yet again. As investors we must be diligent in our work, diligent in understanding the issues. We must think for ourselves, beyond the noise, beyond the pressure to conform. Now is the time to have courage in our convictions.

When I listen to Bernanke speak what scares me most is not his forecasts of 3-4% economic growth but his complete lack of comprehension of the problems:

  • His apparent belief that this soft patch will pass.
  • That QE was successful.
  • That with more time structural changes in our economy will fix themselves.
  • That the answer to debt is more debt.
  • In the words of Helen Keller his sight makes him a very dangerous man.

Bonds forecast, equities confirm. Bonds have spoken. Equities are finally listening.

 

Japan Fukushima update: rethink of national energy policy

leave a comment »

from Casey Research
Posted originally May 12, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi disaster prompts closure of another plant, rethink of national energy policy

As workers continue to battle with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, more impacts from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl are starting to arise. The latest impact will hit car manufacturers, with plants in central Japan hit the hardest: power firm Chubu Electric has agreed to shut its Hamaoka Nuclear Plant until it can build better defenses against the kind of massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, and Hamaoka provides power to at least 15 auto plants.

Now analysts are wondering if the power disruptions – and more generally the lack of clarity around Japan’s future energy policy – might be the final pressure that drives Japan’s famous car makers towards more overseas manufacturing.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked Chubu to shut down all of the reactors at Hamaoka, citing studies that say there is a 87% chance the area will be hit by a earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater in the next 30 years. That information raised questions about why the plant was built near a major fault line in the first place. Chubu complied with the request within days. The utility said it will look to buy more liquefied natural gas and oil to make up for lost capacity. The company also said it will make efforts to procure energy from another utility in western Japan to try to avoid disruptions in its power supply.

That supply powers half of the 18 Toyota plants in central Japan and all four of Suzuki Motor’s domestic car and motorcycle facilities. The coverage area also includes plants owned by Honda Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, as well as Sharp’s LCD factory and Toshiba’s semiconductor plant.

Japan’s car makers are already hurting from the March 11 disaster. Toyota and Honda have been forced to operate at about half of their planned levels because of a shortage of components. They had forecast a return to normal levels by the end of the year, but now power shortages will make it even harder to recover. More generally, the power issue could give car companies another reason – in addition to a strong yen and cheaper labor abroad – to shrink production volumes in Japan.

The government stressed that Hamaoka was a special case because of its location, and reiterated that other plants would not be singled out for closure. Analysts were less than convinced, however; many pointed out that the request to Chubu came from a government that still had not clarified its energy policy in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Chubu can switch to LNG- and oil-derived power in the short term, but those power sources cost more and increase emissions. In the longer term, no one knows what the government wants to do. And the longer that uncertainty about power supplies continues, the more companies will start thinking about manufacturing overseas.

As if in response to these growing calls for energy policy certainty, on Tuesday the prime minister said Japan will scrap a plan calling for increasing use of nuclear power. Prior to the disaster, Kan’s government planned to increase the country’s reliance on nuclear power from 30% to 50%. Kan said the country needs to “start from scratch” on its long-term energy policy.

Over at Fukushima Daiichi, workers opened the doors of the damaged building around Reactor No.1 on Sunday and, after letting the building air out for eight hours, entered the building for the first time. TEPCO said the airing out released little radiation because an air filtration system installed last week had already removed most of the dangerous particles. The next step is to start replacing the reactor’s cooling systems.

A few days ago, about 100 evacuees were allowed to visit their homes in the exclusion zone around the plant for the first time since the earthquake. Nine towns and villages, usually home to tens of thousands, are subject to the no-go zone order and TEPCO says that, even in a best-case scenario, residents will be not able to return for another six to nine months.

What they’re covering up at Fukushima

leave a comment »

by Hirose Takashi
Posted originally March 22, 2011
http://www.counterpunch.org/

Introduced by Douglas Lummis

HIROSE TAKASHI HAS WRITTEN A WHOLE SHELF FULL OF BOOKS, MOSTLY ON THE NUCLEAR POWER industry and the military-industrial complex. Probably his best known book is Nuclear Power Plants for Tokyo in which he took the logic of the nuke promoters to its logical conclusion: if you are so sure that they’re safe, why not build them in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires?

He did the TV interview that is partly translated below somewhat against his present impulses. I talked to him on the telephone today (March 22 , 2011) and he told me that while it made sense to oppose nuclear power back then, now that the disaster has begun he would just as soon remain silent, but the lies they are telling on the radio and TV are so gross that he cannot remain silent.

I have translated only about the first third of the interview (you can see the whole thing in Japanese on YouTube), the part that pertains particularly to what is happening at the Fukushima plants. In the latter part he talked about how dangerous radiation is in general, and also about the continuing danger of earthquakes.

After reading his account, you will wonder, why do they keep on sprinkling water on the reactors, rather than accept the sarcophagus solution  [ie., entombing the reactors in concrete. Editors.] I think there are a couple of answers. One, those reactors were expensive, and they just can’t bear the idea of that huge a financial loss. But more importantly, accepting the sarcophagus solution means admitting that they were wrong, and that they couldn’t fix the things. On the one hand that’s too much guilt for a human being to bear. On the other, it means the defeat of the nuclear energy idea, an idea they hold to with almost religious devotion. And it means not just the loss of those six (or ten) reactors, it means shutting down all the others as well, a financial catastrophe. If they can only get them cooled down and running again they can say, See, nuclear power isn’t so dangerous after all. Fukushima is a drama with the whole world watching, that can end in the defeat or (in their frail, I think groundless, hope) victory for the nuclear industry. Hirose’s account can help us to understand what the drama is about. –Douglas Lummis

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

“You get 3,500,000 times the normal dose. You call that safe? And what media have reported this? None!”

Hirose Takashi: The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident and the State of the Media
Broadcast by Asahi NewStar, 17 March, 20:00

Interviewers: Yoh Sen’ei and Maeda Mari

Yoh: Today many people saw water being sprayed on the reactors from the air and from the ground, but is this effective?

Hirose: If you want to cool a reactor down with water, you have to circulate the water inside and carry the heat away, otherwise it has no meaning. So the only solution is to reconnect the electricity. Otherwise it’s like pouring water on lava.

Yoh: Reconnect the electricity – that’s to restart the cooling system?

Hirose:  Yes.  The accident was caused by the fact that the tsunami flooded the emergency generators and carried away their fuel tanks.  If that isn’t fixed, there’s no way to recover from this accident.

Yoh: Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner/operator of the nuclear plants] says they expect to bring in a high voltage line this evening.

Hirose: Yes, there’s a little bit of hope there. But what’s worrisome is that a nuclear reactor is not like what the schematic pictures show (shows a graphic picture of a reactor, like those used on TV).  This is just a cartoon.  Here’s what it looks like underneath a reactor container (shows a photograph). This is the butt end of the reactor. Take a look. It’s a forest of switch levers and wires and pipes. On television these pseudo-scholars come on and give us simple explanations, but they know nothing, those college professors. Only the engineers know. This is where water has been poured in. This maze of pipes is enough to make you dizzy. Its structure is too wildly complex for us to understand. For a week now they have been pouring water through there. And it’s salt water, right?  You pour salt water on a hot kiln and what do you think happens? You get salt. The salt will get into all these valves and cause them to freeze. They won’t move. This will be happening everywhere.  So I can’t believe that it’s just a simple matter of you reconnecting the electricity and the water will begin to circulate. I think any engineer with a little imagination can understand this. You take a system as unbelievably complex as this and then actually dump water on it from a helicopter – maybe they have some idea of how this could work, but I can’t understand it.

Yoh: It will take 1300 tons of water to fill the pools that contain the spent fuel rods in reactors 3 and 4. This morning 30 tons. Then the Self Defense Forces are to hose in another 30 tons from five trucks. That’s nowhere near enough, they have to keep it up. Is this squirting of water from hoses going to change the situation?

Read the rest of this entry »

Land of the Setting Sun

leave a comment »

by Jim Quinn
Originally posted March 28, 2011
(Apologies to Mr Quinn, his article is slightly condensed here.)

THE LINEAR THINKERS THAT DOMINATE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA and the halls of power in Washington D.C. are assessing the series of disasters in Japan without connecting the dots of history. Their ideological desire to convince people that things will go back to normal in short order flies in the face of the facts.

It makes me wonder whether these supposed thought leaders lack true intelligence or whether their ideological biases convince them to lie. At the end of the day it comes down to wealth, power and control. If those in power were to tell the truth about the true consequences of demographics, debt, disasters, and devaluation, their subjects would revolt and toss them out. Before the multiple disasters struck Japan last week, the sun was already setting on this empire. The recent tragic events will accelerate that descent.

Japanese Beetle Meet Windshield

Smart financial minds have been expecting a Japanese economic tsunami for the last few years. John Mauldin described Japan’s predicament in early 2010:

“I refer to Japan as a bug in search of a windshield. I am not so sure about the timing, however, as the economic and fiscal insanity that is Japan may be able to go on for longer than many think possible. But to me it is not a question of whether there will be a crisis, but when there will be one. This year? 2011? 2012? I doubt Japan makes it to the middle of the decade with a very serious and sad day of reckoning.”

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard expected a 9.0 debt earthquake to strike Japan in 2010:

“Weak sovereigns will buckle. The shocker will be Japan, our Weimar-in-waiting. This is the year when Tokyo finds it can no longer borrow at 1% from a captive bond market, and when it must foot the bill for all those fiscal packages that seemed such a good idea at the time. Every auction of JGBs will be a news event as the public debt punches above 225% of GDP. Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii will become as familiar as a rock star.

Once the dam breaks, debt service costs will tear the budget to pieces. The Bank of Japan will pull the emergency lever on QE. The country will flip from deflation to incipient hyperinflation. The yen will fall out of bed, outdoing China’s yuan in the beggar-thy-neighbor race to the bottom.”

Mr. Pritchard was either wrong or early, depending upon your point of view.

Debt & Demographics

Japan is a one trick pony that just broke two legs and is waiting to be put down. They have experienced a two decade long recession. Their stock market is still 70% below its 1990 peak. They have no natural resources. They allow virtually no immigration. And their population is in a death spiral. The one and only thing they have going for them is their phenomenal ability to manufacture high quality products and export them to the rest of the world. The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan severely damaged their ‘just in time’ manufacturing machine. A surging yen would destroy their export machine by making their products more expensive. Hundreds of high tech Toyota, Honda, and Sony factories are shut. Four hundred miles of ports and harbors have been wiped out. There are rolling blackouts, with one million households without electricity. Over 500,000 people are still homeless.

The short-term impact of this disaster will push Japan into recession. The rebuilding efforts over the coming years will create a positive GDP figure, but will not do anything to benefit Japan over the long haul. The billions designated to rebuild will be money not invested in a more beneficial manner. The linear thinkers conclude that over the long-term Japan will be OK. These people are ignoring the double D’s – Debt and Demographics. When Japan entered its two decades of recession and experienced the Kobe earthquake in 1995, its government debt stood at 52% of GDP. Today it stands at 225% of GDP.

Twenty one years ago, the Japanese population was still relatively young, with only 12% of the population over 65 years old. The population of Japan peaked in 2004 and now is in relentless decline. Over 23% of the population is over 65 and the median age is 45 years old. For comparison, the median age in the U.S. is 37 years old, with only 13% over 65. The population of Japan is aging rapidly and will decline by 4.4 million, or 3.5% in the next ten years.

The question I pose to the mainstream thinkers is, “How can a country with a rapidly aging population and nearly one quarter of its population over 65 years old generate the necessary dynamic enthusiasm for rebuilding a shattered country?” Youthful enthusiasm and hope for a brighter future is essential to any enormous rebuilding effort. Japan does not have it in them. News reports already indicate a lethargic and seemingly insufficient response by emergency workers. The devastation seems to have overwhelmed this aging country. The psychological impact of this type of natural disaster will likely have two phases. Psychology professor Magda Osman describes the expected human response:

“After a disaster, typically small communities become incredibly co-operative and pull together to help each other and start the rebuilding process. There’s an immediate response where people start to take control of the situation, begin to deal with it and assess and respond to the devastation around them. The problem is that we aren’t very good at calculating the long-term effects of disasters. After about two months of re-building and cleaning up we tend to experience a second major slump when we realize the full severity of the situation in the longer term. This is what we need to be wary of because this triggers severe depression.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Has Wall Street no decency?

with 2 comments

by Rick Ackerman
Posted originally March 28, 2011

Watching the Dow Industrial Average cavort in the thin air above 12000 while the world goes to hell, we’re reminded of the famous exchange between Senator Joseph McCarthy and U.S. Army counsel Joseph Welch during the Army-McCarthy hearings:  “Have you no decency, sir?” asked Welch after the Commie-baiting McCarthy had smeared a junior lawyer from Welch’s firm with a ruinous accusation.

We might ask the same question of the decision makers who in recent weeks have been driving stocks higher no matter how grave the news or world-shaking the event: Have you, the Masters of the Universe, no decency? Apparently not — at least none capable of registering even a mote of doubt or concern about what is going on in the real world. Granted, there was a fleeting loss of confidence in the literal wake of March 11’s epic earthquake and tsunami. Some investors wondered how global manufacturers would fare with their most important supplier of just-in-time parts out of commission. Others grew nervous that Japan’s very financial stability was in jeopardy. But it didn’t take long before such anxious speculation gave way to the sunny notion that it would take vast quantities of capital investment to rebuild Japan. Ka-ching!

That was more than a week ago. Since then, Japan’s predicament has grown increasingly menacing. Radioactive waste is spilling into the sea, a reactor containment vessel appears to have cracked, and there is no longer even a timetable for fixing the problem. Will Geiger counters in L.A. have to go crazy for Wall Street to at least act as though all of this matters?

Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: Extreme weather, imminent earthquake danger

with one comment

by Piers Corbyn
http://www.weatheraction.com/displayarticle.asp?a=328&c=5

EXTREME WEATHER AND EARTHQUAKE DANGER IMMINENT around 23rd-27th March warns Piers Corbyn

The very active solar region which emerged from the SE limb of the sun on the morning of 21st March is crackling with dangerous activity including extreme UV radiation and up to 50Mev proton bursts and its appearance along with other active regions on the sun fits our WeatherAction.com long-range WARNING for significant weather extremes and earthquakes in the period around 23rd-27th March, issued during February.

WATCH SOLAR ACTION DEVELOP:

Solar activity details: http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?month=03&day=21&year=2011&view=view (= http://bit.ly/h13CuA  use forward button to get to next day) and http://www.lmsal.com/solarsoft/latest_events/ 2nd graph down purple blip is 50Mev. The other levels are different colours. Notice 1Mev is staying high on 22nd also. Note the Spaceweather link already shows a solar wind stream from a coronal hole will hit Earth 23/24th March, the newly reported activity on the sun will lead to earth hits following that. Solar wind hit 527km/sec – that’s fast on 23rd March. Geomagnetic Activity – should increase in 23-27th periods – See http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/kp_3d.html

We warned of these dangers – with weather event detail for USA, West Europe, Australia, New Zealand and BanglaDesh in forecasts issued around the end of February and repeated on the posting “15/16…March THE DANGEROUS TIMES THE WORLD IS IN….”  http://bit.ly/enMFIy

WATCH FOR MAJOR EARTHQUAKES:

Piers Corbyn says “The recent extreme Earthquake events in the world were preceded by extreme events on the sun – specifically X level solar flares and related proton bursts. It appears to us that it is always the case that extreme weather and earthquake events are preceded by extreme events on the sun and historically proton events which are usually associated with X flares are an especially reliable warning of extreme weather, storm formation and earthquake events.

We have no forecast of specifically where the earthquake events are most likely except to say that the Pacific “ring of fire” is very vulnerable and new serious earthquake events in Japan and /or the West USA are very possible. Some other researchers** have also been making warnings of earthquake events around the present period. My main risk periods are a bit later than theirs because although lunar tidal effects (such as ‘Supermoon’ 19th March) are important we find the solar hits are crucial determinants. **Links to these forecasts of others which include comments on possible regions are available via the link above – http://bit.ly/enMFIy

EARTHQUAKE WATCH:

More Significant – Magnitude 6.0 or above shown in Red –LINK http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php On 22nd (Okay for investigation given approx timings especially of Earthquakes) M=6.1 mid-Atlantic ridge is interesting as well as 4 quakes in Japan bigger than M=6 with 2 of M=6.6 . There was only one of M 6.0 or above (it was 6.1 in Japan) in previous 4 days 18-21 Mar. M 6.5 or above is probably more than an aftershock. For comparison the devastating New Zealand Earthquake of 21st Feb 2011 was M=6.3 but rather near the surface

#thaiquake 13.55z24Mar M6.8 http://1.usa.gov/dOgl4I CONFIRMS PiersCorbyn’s LongRange Extreme Quake warning 23-27Mar http://bit.ly/hBHho1

WATCH EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS:

“The weather events are expected in two waves ~23/24th and ~26/27th and extreme earthquake events risk is significantly enhanced all through this period 23-27th March but probably more enhanced later with high risk continuing a day or so after 27th.

“The long range predicted weather events in the double period 23-27th March include:
– Snow deluges / cold blasts in N/ NE Britain & NW Europe
– USA A double whammy of major snow & blizzards (esp 25-27th) Great Lakes & West thereof; Tornadoes in South
– Australia Tropical Cyclone formation likely East of Queensland and Tornado possible New Zealand (North Island) prob 23/24th. Tornado formation risk is high in Bangladesh 26/27th

FULL DETAILS of these forecasts for the whole of March are available via http://bit.ly/dNhlNo . New subscribers now (late March) also will get access to the April forecasts when available at the end of March at no further charge.

WEATHER NEWS UPDATES:

USA 23rd March (as on twitter) MORE confirmation of W-Action 23-24th March  warnings. WeatherChannel: “242 severe reports as of 8:30pm EDT, most in a day since February 28th”. The reports were of large hail, damaging winds, tornado developments etc in various parts

N/NE Britain & West Europe 23rd March. Short range forecast maps show cold plunge starting and devloping over next few days in W Europe and N/NE Britain http://www.westwind.ch/?link=ukmb,http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/,.gif,bracka,brack0,brack0a,brack1,brack1a,brack2,brack2a,brack3,brack4 Note: S / SW parts and  Ireland will be warmer