Monday, March 14, 2011

Likely Economic Effects of the Japanese Earthquake

Living in Chile, I experienced the February 2010 earthquake. That puppy measured 8.8 on the Richter scale at its epicenter. In Santiago, the earthquake registered about an 8.2—and I was on a 15th floor when it happened. Believe me, it was quite the experience. I wrote a first person account of the earthquake here

Friday, March 11, 2011.
I bring this up in relation to the Sendai earthquake that rocked Japan this past Friday: It was an 8.9 (Richter), and wrought tremendous devastation. As I write, there is as yet no clear accounting as to lives lost, though it is likely in the tens of thousands. At least two nuclear reactor sites have been severely damaged; the Fukushima reactor #1 is close to melting down, and #3 isn’t in much better shape. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area, and further tens of thousands of people are homeless, following the tsunami. And millions of people are without electricity or running water. 

This is a tragedy for the Japanese people—the worst crisis since the end of the Second World War. 

To those of us untouched by the direct effects of this tragedy, we should thank our lucky stars. But rather than gawk at the lurid images coming through the media, it would be smart for us at this time to analyze the likely effects of this disaster on the rest of the world’s economy. 

Many pundits are hawking headlines along the lines of “The World’s Most Indebted Country Will Have To Go Into More Debt!”—but this isn’t necessarily true. Or in fact not necessarily a problem. 

Over the next few weeks, Japanese companies will liquidate foreign holdings, in order to repatriate capital so as to pay for reconstruction. That is, they’ll be selling foreign assets and buying yens. So the yen—if left unchecked—could conceivably rise over the next month or two, a rise that could potentially be substantial, and severely disruptive. 

So the BOJ won’t leave it unchecked: To combat the effects of capital repatriation on the yen—and to provide short term liquidity to the Japanese government—the Bank of Japan has already announced a liquidity window for Japanese banks. There’s no question that this “massive liquidity” they are looking to inject will be expanded to Japanese companies looking to dump foreign assets and spend money on reconstruction. The BOJ invented Quantitative Easing, after all.

Therefore, yen appreciation is a non-issue at this time, and for the immediate short-term. The BOJ will make sure to keep the currency in check.

Insurance, however, will be an issue. The experience with the Chilean earthquake was, the big insurance companies—especially the big international ones—didn’t lay off enough of their liability; that is, they didn’t fully reinsure themselves. In Chile, the last major earthquake had been in 1985: Obviously, international insurance companies calculated that they could maximize profits by minimizing the cost of reinsurance, gambling that this year, The Big One wouldn’t hit. The strategy worked like a charm—until February 2010, when The Big One finally did hit.

I don’t know the Japanese situation in detail, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened there: The international insurance firms didn’t lay off enough of their earthquake/disaster liability on reinsurers. Local insurers will have been wise enough to lay off that exposure—but the international ones will get caught with their pants down. So although all insurers with Japanese exposure will take a hit, the local Japanese firms will probably rebound quicker.

It could happen that indeed, some of the big international insurers can’t cover their Japanese liabilities.

Energy in Japan will be an issue moving forward. Japan gets 29% of its electricity from nuclear power, about a quarter from liquid natural gas, about a fifth from coal, an eighth from hydroelectric and the last eighth from oil and other sources.

There are eighteen nuclear power plants in Japan, comprising 55 reactors. The earthquake will severely curtail the amount of electricity delivered by these nuclear power plants; already there are rolling blackouts in areas which were not affected by the earthquake. Apart from the Fukushima disaster and the power plants that were knocked offline by the quake, the Japanese are probably checking all the other plants in the country, to make sure that they weren’t damaged by the quake. Therefore, as the nuclear component of the energy pie diminishes because the reactors are shut down, there will be increased price pressure on liquid natural gas and coal, and to a lesser extent oil. That’s in the immediate short-term.

This will continue into the mid-term (12 to 30 months)—it’ll take at least that long for the nuclear power component of Japan’s energy supply to get back to pre-quake levels. And that’s assuming, of course, that nuclear energy ever makes it back to the Japanese table at all.

In the long term, the Fukushima disaster will no doubt force a severe re-evaluation of nuclear power—not only in Japan, but in India and China and well. Both of these countries have tremendous long-term energy needs—but neither wants to deal with the mess of a nuclear accident like the Japanese are being forced to deal. 

Nuclear technology was making a strong comeback, especially with oil prices surging and the instability in the Middle East and North Africa adding to production uncertainty. But now? Irrespective of what we think about nuclear energy—and I’m of two minds about it, recognizing both the need for cheap energy, but the mess that nuclear can become—if there is a meltdown of one of the reactors in Japan, that’s curtains for nuclear energy for a generation. The thinking will be, If the Japanese couldn’t prevent a disaster, then no one can. 

Even if there isn’t an out-and-out disaster, and somehow the Japanese technicians manage to bring the various reactors to heel, no country will be able to carry out a new nuclear plant build without a huge public outcry. So even in the best case scenario, nuclear is dead. 

Therefore, nuclear power technology providers—General Electric and so on—will take a hit in their business. Possibly even a mortal one. 

What about the overall effect on the Japanese people and economy?

Again, drawing on the Chilean experience: Following the February 2010 Great Quake, there was a burst of economic activity. Certainly construction—especially in roadway and infrastructure repairs due to the damage of the quake—got a bump up. 

But it wasn’t just particular industries that got a bump up—it was the mood of the country overall. This can’t be quantified, but to deny it is to be deliberately dense: During the weeks and months after the February 2010 earthquake, there was a sense of elation in the general populace. Chile boomed, in the months after the earthquake. How much did it boom? Well, in nominal dollar terms, the Chilean GDP grew from $166 billion in 2009 to $199 billion in 2010: A 20% bump. There were other things that pushed up the dollar-denominated GDP in 2010: Copper prices rose precipitously, and the new center-right, pro-business administration of Sebastián Piñera took over, attracting a lot of foreign capital.

But still: The bouyant mood of the country following the earthquake had a lot to do with that 20% bump up in nominal GDP. I would expect something similar to happen in Japan.

So there’ll be a big spurt in spending: Repairing the damage will cost maybe half a trillion dollars. Question: Will this necessary spending spree break Japan’s historically stubborn deflation?

I don’t know, actually, but I think it might. The BOJ is doing what ought to be done, liquidity-wise. And if the repair costs are indeed $500 billion—about 12.5% of GDP—then that kind of expenditure in such a short time will be like an eight-ball of cocaine to the economy.

But then again, the overly thrifty Japanese might get even more thrifty in the wake of the earthquake. That, coupled with interrupted industrial production—and the consequent loss of foreign income—might drive on deflation.

So we’ll have to keep an eye on the Japanese economy over the coming weeks and months: To see if the Sendai earthquake kickstarts the Japanese, or if it turns out to be one more deflationary nail in the coffin of the Japanese economy.

If you’re interested in the whole deflation/inflation debate, do check out the recording Nicole “Stoneleigh” Foss and I made of our debate: Stoneleigh vs. Lira—Deflation vs. Hyperinflation
 If you’re on my side of the debate, then do check out my presentation, “Hyperinflation In America”. 
    

50 comments:

  1. Except , not too many people seem to know Japanese geography.

    The area which got damaged is a relatively depressed area of Japan with little significant economic activities. Something like Punta Arenas.

    In other words, there is unlikely to be a boom for reconstruction.

    The primary industries of that region were agriculture and fishing. That's why the damage is only half a trillion, not a couple of trillion if it had hit Tokyo or Osaka.

    The land is doomed due to the debris brought by the tsunami, and the fishing ports are all damaged.

    There won't be a boom for reconstruction. The people who used to live there will go somewhere else, probably to Tokyo or Sapporo.

    Also Chile's population is relatively younger so the 'morale boost' worked; Japan's population, especially the population who used to live in that region, are relatively older and their time to get motivated is already past.

    If anything it will bring even more retrenchment.

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  2. Interesting piece.

    Some analysts are optimistic that this shake-up will be "good for the economy". But repairing destruction is not the same as economic progress. It's the old Broken Window Fallacy, which Henry Hazlitt used to demonstrate and refute weird economic "thinking" in his great book "Economics in One Lesson". An increase in GDP only tells how much more has been spent, not how much more demand has been fulfilled.

    Please see
    Economics in One Lesson

    The first chapters "The Broken Window" and "The Blessings of Destruction" tell it all. Only the industries which repair the damage, gain. All others loose: "The glazier's gain of business, in short, is merely the tailor's loss of business."

    But you don't see that. Construction flourishes after an earthquake or war, but the foregone products and utilities which would have been produced without the disaster, remain unseen and therefore overlooked. This will apply of course on a big scale in Japan.

    After all, if destruction is a blessing, we could have prosperity forever by regularly bombing our cities, blowing up powerhouses and fighting wars. But destruction does not create properity: it follows from it. New capital goods are produced and old ones replaced as innovations have been made and techniques developed, which can replace the old ones and create more goods and profits.

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  3. Well said, Fan of Hazlitt. Agreed.

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  4. Perhaps it is my economic illiteracy or simply a less optimistic view of the human condition which prevents me from sharing in your decidedly sanguine and forward looking assessment of this unprecedented cataclysm. My immediate impression is that this is a death blow from which the already moribund Japanese people would be very long if ever in recovering from.

    Even in the best of economic and geopolitical climates, the challenges facing the island nation would be incredibly daunting, but against the background of the profound global economic crisis, catastrophic environmental degradations and calamities, and the unfolding social chaos spreading across North Africa and the Middle East, and given the potentially exponential rise in ME crude upon which the Japanese economy is singularly dependent the costs reconstruction could be an insurmountable obstacle.

    Japan is still far from recovering from the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake which created a permanent underclass of homeless street dwellers and tent cities which are still much in evidence. The extent of the present disaster far surpasses that by several orders of magnitude, raising the spectre of massive ongoing and irreversible radioactive contamination as well.

    Though I wouldn't want to argue with your confidence in the resilience of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insuperable difficulties, I see this as a profound game changer not only for Japan, but the rest of the world as well.

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  5. Mea Culpa, GL. Mohammed El-Arian's commentary in the Financial Times confirms once again your status as one of the super-cognoscienti in the abstruse and difficult terrain of high finance:

    "Japan is a rich country that is also able to borrow at relatively low interest rates. As such, it definitely has the ability to rebound economically from these horrible natural disasters. Moreover, in a really good recovery scenario, Friday’s dreadful shock could even be a catalyst for internal political unity and for overcoming what has been two disappointing decades of economic performance. Indeed, a prolonged period of high and sustained growth is key to Japan’s handling of its domestic public dynamics.

    The world has a shared interest in the economic recovery of this systemically important country. The good health of Japan is central to a robust global economy that generates lots of jobs and enhances productivity. And, at the most basic human level, we wish for the well-being of all those in Japan who have been affected by a truly horrible tragedy."

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  6. I mainly agree with your assessment, but I question your comments on nuclear energy. Japan cannot avoid nuclear, because of the oil shocks which are coming; It must import its energy, because it has no resources. The point about nuclear is that a payment now could avoid utility price increases during a coming world wide hyperinflation.

    The question is whether Japan’s leadership will use this crisis to modernize.

    Japan’s nuclear establishment is using 1970s technology. Light water reactors are not robust enough to use in active earthquake zones. They are accidents waiting to happen. The high pressures and temperatures generated require active cooling when the control rods are inoperable. This was the cause of the recent explosions in Japan which allowed radiation to escape. This is a defect of using obsolete technology; not enough fail-safes are built in.

    Two nuclear technologies could ride out a 10.0 earthquake, because they don’t use high pressures. The reactors are small and decentralized, so that damage in one location does not deprive the whole country of electrical power.

    Both technologies are small enough that they could reside in the basements of high rise towers. Both are inherently safe, because they can be shut down instantly and don’t require weeks of inspection and testing to come back on line. They don’t easily break and can quickly go off line. They can fire up again as soon as down power lines are removed from the grid.

    The technologies, which I refer to, are Pebble Bed and Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Both use high temperature gas to drive turbines. They could have breaks in lines to turbines and be safely shut down.

    Pebble bed Reactors are designed to withstand high temperatures without flow. They can’t melt down. A longer term solution is to remove the uranium pebbles until a nuclear reaction no longer takes place.

    Neither reactor type requires containment buildings and can reside safely in urban environments. This would also lower distribution costs. This is Turn Key technology providing between 100 to 500 Megawatts. There is no critical point problems.

    The other technology is Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Here the radioactive material is liquid at 1600 degrees F. If the reactor overheats for any reason, then the material gets dumped into a lower tray. The radioactive material spreads out and the reaction stops. Dumping is automatic when a freeze plug below the reactor melts. Once any problems are fixed (breaks in gas lines to turbines, down power lines to users and blown transformers, etc) then the reactor material can be heated up and pumped back into the reactor. It can take less than 10 minutes to dump and restart. A light water reactor can take weeks once it goes off line.

    Both technologies would eventually lower the cost of generating electricity, but installing them requires a capital expenditure. The temptation is to make immediate repairs because capital will be scarce due to reconstruction in Japan’s north.

    Japan’s nuclear power problems are solvable, but they require flexible minds among its leadership and bureaucracy. I am not sure whether they will utilize this opportunity to modernize. If they don’t then they are waiting on the next big earthquake, which will surely come.

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  7. GL said ... "But rather than gawk at the lurid images coming through the media, it would be smart for us at this time to analyze the likely effects of this disaster on the rest of the world’s economy."

    Except for those of us who live in Southern California. We should be taking note - and working our butts off to get ready for our own great earthquake. But do you think that is happening? I was in my local hardware store yesterday buying a 30-inch pry bar for my earthquake supplies. I asked the clerk if other people were also buying items, in response to the news from Japan. Her reply was ... "No. You're the only one".

    Apparently we have reached "peak complacency" in California. You might want to factor that into your investment strategy.

    PeteCA

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  8. I'm skeptical of the capital the Japan can raise to rebuild a functioning economy in the devastated areas. They haven't been in a deflationary malaise for more than 2 decades for just no reason at all. Their currency is not working, and their economy can only bring a decent standard of living to so many people.

    Now, they are going to lose a substantial portion of forward-looking GDP for probably a full year, then a minor portion thereafter.

    By the way, their population is VERY OLD. If you want to see a vibrant Japan at any time in our lifetimes, they would have to accept large amount of immigrants. That, would be a tragedy of sorts in a colloquial Japanese culture sense.

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  9. There is a good article in the Wall Street Journal today about the nuclear plant situation in Japan by William Tucker.
    The "talk heads" in the main media are hysterical and don't know what they are talking about.
    Three Mile Island proved that the China Syndrome is not true. A reactor meltdown can be contained.
    The radiation leaks occurring in Japan are of the magnitude of dental X rays.
    The production of electricity is "not pretty", no matter how you do it.
    You have to take a look at the options:
    1. Keep burning fossil fuels and keep poisoning our air with neurotoxins. And for those on the "CO2 is bad" persuasion cause global warming.
    2. Go to wind and solar power and you can not sustain the current world population. You'd have to "terminate" 70% of the population. There is just no way to produce enough food and essentials on a wind/solar economy.
    3. Keep working to make nuclear power safer and electrify automobile transportation. That gives you inexpensive energy and gets rid of CO2. Incidentally, Generation III nukes don't need electric water pumps to keep cool. Thereby eliminating an "un-pretty" failure mode.
    Hysteria about nuclear power is not going to solve any problems.

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  10. Whoa gonzalo, I think you are going too far ahead in your analysis. Chile had lots of copper and minerals and china and other countries were ready to invest in rebuilding. Chileans were poor and didn't have much saved up, so the loss was small. Chileans do a lot of farming and other primary economic activity which does not need factories. Japan is exact opposite, no one is ready to invest there, Japanese are old and rich and have unfortunately saved a lot and lost it. Factories are very important to Japan and these were destroyed in the quake. So the recovery might not be as you think.
    Your prediction of nuclear energy going bust is completely misplaced, India and China have gone too far to abandon it. There might be some review but countries will carry on, after all not every region is prone to major earthquakes.

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  11. The japanese will rebound, about that I am certain. But it will take time!
    In the m eanwhile they will liquidate stores of wealth, so the gold price will, briefly, be affected and foreign holdings will be auctioned off. New investments in US debt. One of Americas debt devouring friends will no longer eat.
    It is perhaps early to guess about the ramnifications, but there will be some, rather major implications.
    Gold suddenly seems like one of the few realistic options, apart from selected shares in yellow metal (of a different kind) and alternative energies.

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  12. @UrbanBard
    I completely agree that new tech reactors are much safer than anything online today. I have followed this trend since the 80's when several universities were given the task of designing the next generation reactors. It is now completely possible to build a "melt down proof" reactor. The problems are:
    1. a lack of knowledge in the general populace
    2. a lack of agreement on which type of design to move forward with.
    3. a complete and total lack of trust in the general populace regarding nuke power. (see #1 above)
    4. a lack of funding should they decide to put one of the new advanced designs "in service".

    To that end, this tragety in Japan may go along way to solve all 4 issues. We can only hope so because as energy needs continue to grow there is really no other option for large scale base load generation. Coal is dead due to the rubbish put on the people called "climate change". Solar is clean but insanely expensive ( something on the order of 4 times as expensive as nuke) And it doesnt work at night or on cloudy days. Wind is the same although not quite as expensive as Solar. Geothermal is a good system that can produce reliable clean energy buy it only works in a very small part of the world. Natural Gas is cheap (for now but not in the long run) but to replace 100 nukes with NG would take more supply through put than we can possible build.

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  13. I do not believe nuclear is dead, the contrary, this debate will include the new designs that are not prone to meltdown. The worse the situation gets in the middle east, the more emphasis there will be on making more of our own energy. Solar, wind and the rest make only 1% of our power today, and this will not really change.
    Japan has a lot of savings for rebuilding, but what they lack are actually young bodies to do that labor.

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  14. I work in the nuclear power industry. Most feel this is an end to the "Nuclear Renaissance" that's occurring (only due to federal funds being sloshed at the industry).
    The Generation III and IV designs are far safer. People assume too much in thinking that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will move fast on approving anything "new" and "untested".
    This Regulatory body operates like any other, don't be surprised. It took years for them to say the AP1000 design (similar to Generation II, just more passive safety systems) was approved for use. After the general design is approved it takes up to 4 years for a company to get an approved construction/operating license.
    No company has yet received this license. The Banksters are so worried about new reactors here, they won't loan the money unless the federal government explicitly guarantees the loan for 100%. 80% isn't good enough for them.
    Combine all these facts and no new plant is actually going to be completed any time soon.
    Getting off oil dependency isn't easy, cheap, economical or even possible right now.
    We do have our own oil...
    http://visiontoamerica.org/story/question--what-country-is-sitting-on-the-worlds-largest-untapped-oil-reserve.html

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  15. To Ebag:

    Thuth be told is that the 3 mile island WAS a partial meltdown and decade later authoroties admitted that radioactive release was 100 times more than initialy reported.
    A reactor meltdown CANNOT be contained at least not the older plants.

    If you think that the radiation leaks occurring in Japan are of the magnitude of dental X rays. Then go and live there! Or better yet go and take a vacation to Chernobyl.
    CO2 in not bad. Coal burning plants do not produce any pollution and even if they did would I would rather that than a potential exposure to radiation!
    If you believe in CO2 causing global warming then deserve to pay my share of carbon taxes to Al Gore.

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  16. Japan has no other realistic choice, so will probably choose to build new safer design reactors located above future tsunamis. It will be expensive to build them to 9+ earthquake resistance, but they might just manage to do it. If they get hit again soon though, it may prove impossible

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  17. The United States should offer our glut of new & foreclosed housing units to displaced Japanese families with skills such as Farming, Fishing, etc. Set them up, teach them English, and then stand aside.

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  18. The article here is of optimizm. To take a different view lets see a little of whats happening now...globally. From the U.S. caused the Global recession is like the world walking close to a cliff. Events like Russia wheat losses, Deepwater Horizon, Australia floods. Huge increase in food costs and resulting in North Africa revolutions. Continuing wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Stock markets in sell off mode. A U.S. 1.6 Trillion deficit, 44 million on food stamps. The world can not afford to be cliff hanging and that's what is happening. When is the next hit? U.S. fuel at $5 agallon? Get the big picture and you can see a Global Depression brewing with social consequences. Sorry Gonzalo it's not going to be pretty walk in the park anytime soon. If I had the money I would buy a farm and some prcious metals. For now I am looking for employment.

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  19. The only question I have is I think isn't the bailouts or bond purchases of some EU countries by Japan on hold?

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  20. Thanks for your kind words, Anonymous @ 3/15 1:34 AM.

    Japan’s nuclear problem are, partly, the result of power plants should have been phased out in the 1990s or early oughts, because they had exceeded their projected life. Japan’s decades long stagnation prevented the implementation of safer designs. Old designs necessitated a central point of failure which needs to be resolved.

    The damaged nuclear facility at Fukushima is likely to be written off as unsalvageable. The question then becomes “What will replace its 14 GWatts/hr?” Coal, Oil, LNG power plants would lock Japan into a foreign exchange dependancy.

    Initial designs suggest that a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor would be much cheaper to operate, but this is not, yet, commercially available, although the science is proven. Thorium is widely spread throughout the world; we wouldn’t be creating another economic choke point like in the Persian Gulf. Australia, the US, India as well as countries in Africa have exploitable supplies. Japan could take over this market. This is necessary because a high percentage of the World’s nuclear reactors are ancient and risky designs.

    It appears that a Thorium design would be economical enough to warrant replacing old nuclear power plants without the threat of another catastrophe. But, a market for Thorium and U-233 has not developed yet. Someone must spend 200 to 800 million to prove out the technology. This seems the right time to do it, but only an entrepreneur would chance it. The question is whether Japan’s leadership has the will.

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  21. Three mile Island crisis was blown completely out of proportion, Anonymous@10:55 PM.

    The radiation released at TML was almost too small to measure. A hundred times that figure is less radiation than we get from eating a banana. Coal burning power plants put out more radioactive material (Thorium) in an hour than was released at Three Mile Island.

    This is about economics, too. Coal, Oil or LNG would be far more costly to supply and maintain than nuclear. Japan would have bigger foreign exchange problems and be locked into a dependency.

    Nuclear is less likely to do this. First, that is because Japan has spent reactor rods it could refine for fuel. A ton of Thorium per year per reactor would be much smaller than the millions of tons of fossil fuels Japan would, otherwise, have to import. Second, sources for Thorium are widely spread, so Japan could manage its Foreign exchange for supplies much easier. Thirdly, Japan would, necessarily, have to prove this technology, so other countries would be buying LFTR power plants from them. Japan could lock in long term supplies. This could be a real opportunity for japan.

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  22. The three mile Island crisis was covered up just like Chernobyl UrbanBard@3:00 PM. Just like they are down playing what has already occured at the Fukushima plant and what might still occur (all in the name of not creating panic but hey just stay inside your homes, close the windows and turn off the ventilation... yeah that will save you from the radiation!)

    This isn't about coal, LNG, oil or nuclear (even if it was when did coal, LNG or oil ever cause mass destruction that even compares to nuclear's past catastrophies). This always about profit, to hell with all the people who will suffer or die.

    The Fukushima complex uses the GEN I reactors and should have been de-commisionned long ago and that's the point.

    Forget about the economics, aren't lives more important?
    Or have we sold ourselves and future generations out?

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  23. Hey CreoleGenius, let's put Japanese farmers and fishermen where the glut of housing is greatest ... Las Vegas! they can farm the desert and fish in Lake Mead.

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  24. GL ... by the way. The only really big meltdown has been in the credibility of the world media. Coverage of the Japanese nuclear issue has been appalling. Nothing but blatant fear mongering. The "crisis" is manageable in Japan, and would have gone much better if the Japanese Govt had got some good people to handle their press releases.

    I am very disappointed by the lack of factual data from both the Japanese and the US Governments. Where were the actual radiation counts? Nowhere to be found for days. Why didn't the USA send out some special ships and aircraft to measure radiation levels, and report them back to the public? Maybe they did - and said nothing. It's just totally poor behavior.

    I do tip my hat to the workers at the Japanese power plant. Those guys have risked their lives, and no doubt subjected themselves to some serious radiation exposure - in order to help their own country and the world. we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude!

    PeteCA

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  25. To All:

    Check this out:

    Reactor Design in Japan Has Long Been Questioned

    /www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html?_r=2

    The fact that they have been trying to contain/stop the meltdown by pouring sea water to cool the reactors says a whole lot.
    It says that it was the final resort as these plants had no hope of ever being restarted because once you flood the reactors with sea water you basically kissing them good-bye!

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  26. GL:

    Pls Check this out:

    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78387.html

    I'm afraid this will turn out for the worse... this facility houses 6 reactors all soon will go... there's no way that they will be able to keep this under control: they're moving personnel out & thinking about dropping boric acid from helicopters, multiple rods have been exposed for who knows how long... it may be the China Syndrome. Let us hope not

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  27. Anonymous @ 6:40 PM said…
    "The three mile Island crisis was covered up just like Chernobyl"

    Make up your mind. You quoted figures and I replied about how small they were compared to other energy sources like coal. Get some perspective. The truth eventually outs.

    "This isn't about coal, LNG, oil or nuclear (even if it was when did coal, LNG or oil ever cause mass destruction that even compares to nuclear's past catastrophies). “

    Give me a, for instance, on nuclear catastrophes. Nuclear has killed fewer people than Coal, LNG and Oil. Don’t include nuclear bombs in your examples. This thread is about peaceful means of producing energy. Don’t muddy the issue with hysteria.

    All forms of technology have their risks. The Three Mile Island incident killed no one. Chernobyl was a 1940’s design like the first nuclear reactor and the UN says that 4 thousand people will, eventually, lose their lives due to it. Just mining coal has killed more people than that.

    Chernobyl melted down during a test with most of the safety mechanisms disabled. My complaint about Fukushima was how old its design was. My remarks were about what was needed to replace Fukushima.

    "This always about profit, to hell with all the people who will suffer or die. “

    Geez, are you anti-capitalist, too? Why can’t this be about bureaucratic mismanagement? Who owns and controls the power plant? The Japanese government has ultimate authority over nuclear reactors.

    Remember the time line. The plant survived the earthquake and shut down. The Tsunami destroyed the diesel generators needed to power the cooling pumps. If the plant had had higher retaining walls then nothing would have happened at the plant. Who designed the retaining walls?

    "The Fukushima complex uses the GEN I reactors and should have been de-commisionned long ago and that's the point.”

    That was my point. Why weren’t they replaced? It came from a lack of money due to Japan’s stagnant economy. What caused the bad economy? A refusal of the banks to write off its losses and the government issuing a series of Obama style stimulus packages. In other words, Progressive politics. There is enough fault to spread around.

    "Forget about the economics, aren't lives more important?”

    No, bad economics always results in killing people, just like bad politics. The problem you are eluding is crony capitalism between business and bureaucrats. But you only blame the business side of the partnership.

    "Or have we sold ourselves and future generations out?”

    The Progressives sold us out a hundred years ago when they overturned free market capitalism and instituted crony capitalism.

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  28. Anonymous @ 12:11 AMsaid…
    " it may be the China Syndrome. Let us hope not”

    There is no such thing as the China Syndrome; That was propaganda from a silly Jane Fonda movie.

    The nuclear material will not escape the containment dome; it is designed to prevent that. So far the plant has exceeded its earthquake design. It was the Tsunami which was at fault; No one planned for so high a wall of water. Tens of thousands of people were killed by the Tsunami. It is unlikely that Fukushima kills more than single digits. It was knocking out the diesel generators which caused the meltdown.

    Also, an uncovered reactor rod means that it is not covered by water, so it melts down. It does not mean that the reactor rod is exposed to the outside environment. There are three layers of containment between the rod and the outside. There seems to be a breach in the inner most containment layer of reactor number 4.

    Gaseous radioactive products will need to be vented periodically. The amounts of radiation will be low. Most it will be blown out to sea. We are talking about 10 times background radiation which quickly falls as it disperses. On average, it is only a little higher than the normal background radiation of Leadville, Colorado, USA.

    The workers will get a handle on the incident, but the plant will be written off as unsalvageable. The high degree of heat and radioactivity means that the nuclear material will burn out quickly. It will be low enough, in few years, that they can bury it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Another uninformed BS piece from GL. Let's debunk it in order, shall we?

    1) The Richter scale is logarithmic, no linear. A 8.9 earthquake is FIVE TIMES stronger than a 8.2 earthquake so, believe me, you haven't "experienced" anything even remotely similar to what the Japanese have.

    2) A weak yen would actually HELP Japan, since they are an exporting nation.

    3) Anybody claiming that the Japanese reactors are "close to a meltdown" only demonstrates amazing incompetence in the field of nuclear research, total ignorance of the concrete situation and blatant laziness to do the necessary research. (Wait a sec, that fits GL pretty well...) Here is an article that explains it in popular terms for the dunces who are dense enough to grasp the special terminology:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/15/fukushima_update_tuesday/

    4) China has actually sped up the construction of its nuclear power plants, contrary to what GL claims. The rumors that "nuclear is dead" are a bit exaggerated. I wanted to invest some money in uranium mining companies and nuclear power plant companies - the news-related 20% crash of the uranium price was a godsend, permitting me to buy low.

    ReplyDelete
  30. GL:

    I think that Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Anonymous from 15 Mar, 0129 brings up an really good point: what about the effects of our #1b foreign purchaser of US debt? If the Kobe earthquake is any indicator, then I believe that Japan will not buy our debt and may in fact sell a good chunk of the debt they currently own.

    My question: With the US mandatory spending at 101% as of this year, what will the ramifications of Japanese historically-based actions mean to the United States?

    Respectfully,

    C deK

    ReplyDelete
  31. "The three mile Island crisis was covered up just like Chernobyl UrbanBard@3:00 PM. “

    The Soviets tried to cover up Chernobyl. Communist governments always attempt a cover up when their unrealistic plans fail, but the truth leaks out.

    Three Mile Island was overhyped by our anti-Nuke press. An independent Press is a public safeguard, even when they get many things wrong.

    The Three Mile Island incident killed no one. Chernobyl, according to the UN, will eventually kill 4000 people. More thousands of people have died last century in just mining coal. Burning Coal, from the Thorium in the fly ash, puts more radiation into the air than nuclear reactors do.

    Chernobyl was a bad design -- 1940s technology. It was the cheapest way of building a reactor and communists always do things on the cheap, because they don’t care about bad public relations.

    Also, the Chernobyl crisis happened in a test where most of the safeguards were turned off and it had no containment dome. Comparing it to Fukushima is silly. Doing so betrays your ignorance, bias or politics.

    "This isn't about coal, LNG, oil or nuclear (even if it was when did coal, LNG or oil ever cause mass destruction that even compares to nuclear's past catastrophies). “

    Stop with the anti-nuke hysteria. Coal, LNG and oil have killed far more people than nuclear. It just kills them slowly, not in a crisis.

    "This always about profit, to hell with all the people who will suffer or die.”

    You are delusive. Nuclear power in Japan is a regulated marketplace, just like it is in the US. Yes, this is partly about profits, but it is even more about bureaucratic bungling and crony capitalism. The ultimate responsibility for nuclear materials rests with the Japanese government. They approved the original design. They approved extending a 1970s design long past its useful life.

    But, let’s be reasonable here.

    Did Fukushima melt down because of the earthquake? No, the fail safes worked and shut down the three operating reactors. So, what went wrong? It was the Tsunami. No one expected such a high wall of water, so they didn’t build a retaining wall high enough -- or place the Generators on the roof. Some faceless bureaucrat decided that the flood wall which failed was high enough. If the wall had been ten feet higher, then we would have never heard about Fukushima. We would have been obsessing about over 50 thousand people dying in the Tsunami, not the less than ten who will die from Fukushima.

    "The Fukushima complex uses the GEN I reactors and should have been de-commisionned long ago and that's the point.”

    Yes, but the japanese government decided on keeping the old design in operation. Why do you blame businessmen when Nuclear Regulators approved that?

    "Forget about the economics, aren't lives more important?”

    No, bad economics always kills people, just like bad politics. Here we had a combination of both. Japan’s bad economy is responsible for not replacing a 1970s design at Fukushima with a safer one.

    Why did Japan have 20 years of bad economy? It is the same reason that Russia had 50 years of bad harvests -- governmental meddling. It was Progressive politics which caused Japan’s stagnation. The banks won’t write off their debts and the Japanese government keeps using stimulus packages to try to bail everyone out. This is Obama’s solution for America. It won’t work any better than it has in Japan.

    "Or have we sold ourselves and future generations out?”

    We were sold out a hundred years ago when Progressive politics and crony capitalism replaced freedom in America. The Japanese copied our system of nuclear power generation.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hello all—

    I just have to answer Anonymous at 4:15am on 3/16/11. I suspect I know who wrote this: A windbag I've had the unpleasant experience of dealing with before. According to him, I wrote an "uninformed BS piece"—so I have to answer the challenge.

    1. The Chilean quake of 2010 was the fifth most powerful in recorded history, at 8.8 on the Richter scale. It lasted over three minutes. I was in Santiago, where it measured 8.2. In comparison, the Haiti earthquake was a mere 7.0 (one 500th the power), and the '94 Northridge earthquake 6.7 (one 1,000th the power, which BTW lasted all of 20 seconds). So yes, I think I would say that I know exactly what the Japanese quake was like.

    2. I never said a weak yen would be bad for Japan. I said the BoJ would supply a whole lotta yen, in the face of massive capital repatriation.

    3. As to Anonymous saying I claimed the reactors were melting down: I didn't. I said if the reactors melted down, it would be curtains for the nuclear industry for a generation. Fact is, it looks like the Fukushima reactors are melting down. Don't believe me? Then please see today's newspapers in any country on the planet.

    4. About anonymous's bragging of buying uranium after it crashed, calling it a "gosend": I don't know about you all, but I personally would never characterize this catastrophe as a "godsend".

    I'm almost positive this is the Windy City Windbag: It sounds simultaneously stupid, pompous, and completely off-target, not to mention deliberately lying about what I said in order to score points off a straw man.

    So is it that loser? Or is it some other loser you all recognize.

    Please advise.

    GL

    ReplyDelete
  33. To Louis:

    The Soviets DID cover up Chernobyl. Till this day they are still trying to contain the contamination.

    "Chernobyl, according to the UN, will eventually kill 4000 people. More thousands of people have died last century in just mining coal. Burning Coal, from the Thorium in the fly ash, puts more radiation into the air than nuclear reactors do." Shows that you have no idea what radiation is and that you believe whaever the UN shoves down your closed mind.


    "Chernobyl was a bad design -- 1940s technology." -- Correct, but you're totally wrong that "Comparing it to Fukushima is silly. Doing so betrays your ignorance, bias or politics." true that there was no containment at Chernobyl HOWEVER consider the fact that 600,000 spent nuclear rods have exploded into the atmosphere. And guess where they decided to store these rods? Right, in the roofs on the reactors! How brilliant of an idea was that? You "trust" the regulators? Yeah, those containment walls sure do help a heck of a lot.


    "Stop with the anti-nuke hysteria. Coal, LNG and oil have killed far more people than nuclear. It just kills them slowly, not in a crisis." -- this shows your ignorance. These plants were built in the '60s buit by GE (using a flawed design and choosen because it was cheapest).In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

    "We would have been obsessing about over 50 thousand people dying in the Tsunami, not the less than ten who will die from Fukushima." -- yeah sure forget about the radiation why wouldn't you? While this crisis is ongoing, your President Obama is keeping himself busy by videotaping his NCAA tournament picks, hitting the golf course for the 61st time in his presidency, and partying with lawmakers during a Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats game.
    Forget that the US has military bases all around, do you see any of them assisting, no they're moving them further away. Ask yourself why?

    Just look at what is left of the facility, where are the reactors? Where are the building innards? All 4 reactors have tremendous damage. May I remind you that Cherbonyl is still there. Still think this isn't even close? Then it's pretty hopeless, you should run to Japan and buy real estate. I bet it's a deal of a lifetime.

    Wake up!

    ReplyDelete
  34. GL,

    I beg to differ on a weak Yen. A weak Yen will destroy Japan as cost of raw materials will rise. I think this is the tipping point where the Japanese say bye bye to weak Yen. To fix the damage they need to buy not export. A strong Yen is in order. I doubt BOJ will intervene, watch the USDYEN crash below 80.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Be reasonable, Anonymous.

    Why fight? I disagree with how the Soviets handled Chernobyl. Yes, they tried to cover it up and failed. Most of my remarks are on what Japan should do next.

    "Shows that you have no idea what radiation is and that you believe whaever the UN shoves down your closed mind.”

    No, I could teach a course on reactors.

    I used UN data because a Leftist was likely to believe it. No one knows how many people will die from Chernobyl. It will be far fewer than those killed by industrial accidents and the health hazards of Coal /Oil and Nat Gas. I disliked an unsupported statement that nuclear power generation is especially hazardous. It is not.

    Thorium is mildly radioactive -- a large portion of fly ash The fly ash from a coal plant was compared to the tiny percentage of radioactive material emitted by the Three Mile Island incident to give some perspective. Some people are allergic to perspective.

    "You "trust" the regulators? Yeah, those containment walls sure do help a heck of a lot.”

    I trust no one. I disputed a contention that it was all a capitalist plot. The government screwed up big time.

    "In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. “

    I agree. I said that these designs should have been decommissioned ten to twenty years ago. I gave a financial reason why Japan continued to use risky designs: an unending bad economy. These decisions were made the management and the government regulators. Why blame just the management?

    " yeah sure forget about the radiation why wouldn't you? “

    The radiation released has been minuscule, not long lasting. Radiation levels at the plant only harm the workers. At the plant’s perimeter there is no health hazard, but people are kept away; Leadville, Colorado has a higher back ground radiation level. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Soon a power line will be run to the plant so that water can be kept on the three cores which are damaged. The radiation will be contained; it will decay in a few months.

    "While this crisis is ongoing, your President Obama is keeping himself busy by videotaping his NCAA tournament picks...”

    Be thankful that this incompetent SOB kept his hands off. Not that he could do anything, anyway.

    "Forget that the US has military bases all around, do you see any of them assisting, no they're moving them further away. Ask yourself why?”

    This is not in their competency. Nor is it their responsibility, other than to remove their personnel from possible harm.

    "Just look at what is left of the facility, where are the reactors? “

    Deep inside the structure where you can’t see them. The containment buildings have not been breached. There is an unsubstantiated break in reactor #4, but no radioactive material has been exposed to the outside, just some gas has been released which contained radioactive particles.

    " All 4 reactors have tremendous damage. “

    No, you are looking at sheet metal damage from hydrogen explosions. This is not the containment buildings.

    " Still think this isn't even close? “

    No. At Chernobyl, you had radioactive carbon blocks burning which put radiation into the atmosphere. That is not happening here. The cores are not exposed to the outside. Problems are being dealt with. The emergency is almost over.

    "Then it's pretty hopeless, “

    It is not hopeless. You are hysterical. The cores are in rapid decay. All that is necessary is to keep the cores cooled down and let them naturally decay. Eventually, the radiation will get low enough so the cores can be salvaged, but not for months.

    ReplyDelete
  36. To All:

    Since mostly everyone is concerned more about the economic impact instead of focusing on the imminent and still unknown tons upons tons of radioactive Cesium, Iodide, Uranium and Plutonium being released into the atmosphere not counting the 600,000 radioactive spent rods that are going/went up in radioactive plumes...

    It is unlikely that the Yen will go up, the BOJ will receive injections thru the FED (possibly via QE2 or QE3 or whatever) but this will not help but instead propel the Yen even further down. Japan is finished for the forseable future, think about the total devastation, no infrastructure, whole industries/agriculture wipedout, and not to mention what it would even cost to begin de-contamination after this crisis subsides...

    The writting is on the wall for the upcoming hyperinflation as sure as this is the worst disaster in human history but you have people thinking uranium is a good buy after tanking 20% -- unbeleivable!


    P.S. GL. I don't care if you don't take me seriously, just check the info.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nice post,
    BOJ has already expanded their QE program from 5 to 10 Trillion Yen (120billion), to have the scale of QE 2 in the US, they need to implement the full size 30 Trillion Yen. As the government already indebted up to 200% of GDP, they are treading a fine line going forward. Japanese corporate, government and individuals own up to 850 billion worth US Treasuries. If they need to dip into their savings for reconstruction. Keep an eye for the yield curve on US debts.

    Bank of Japan Policy options

    ReplyDelete
  38. Big miss on this one.

    They lost 20 to 30% of all power. And eatern Japan might be totally destroyed and become waste land if plutinium got out.

    They will print more money to save economy, Well why don't they just print yen and buy everyting with fiat money like USA? lol Instead of race to the bottom, why not every country simply print more money and race to buy everything from suckers.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "Since mostly everyone is concerned more about the economic impact instead of focusing on the imminent and still unknown tons upons tons of radioactive Cesium, Iodide, Uranium and Plutonium being released into the atmosphere “

    You are being hysterical. You need a quick course on the realities which doesn’t dismiss the REAL dangers.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/remember-mit-all-safe-paper

    So far, a small amount of radioactive Nitrogen and Xenon along with tiny amounts of Cesium and Iodide were released when steam was vented to reduce pressures inside the containment dome. The outside damage to the plant is from hydrogen explosions from releasing the steam inside the building. This is cosmetic damage.

    The big problem here has been a shortage of cooling water. Once that has been corrected, the emergency is over. The secondary radiation will burn down very quickly. The casualties will be among the plant workers, not the general public. Meanwhile, thousands of people are missing in the North and crop lands will be out of commission for many years.


    "not counting the 600,000 radioactive spent rods that are going/went up in radioactive plumes…”

    Again, so long as sea water is being sprayed on the rods, then they won’t get hot enough for radioactive Zirconium to be boiled out of the rods into the air. These are trying times, but there is no need to act irrational.

    "It is unlikely that the Yen will go up, the BOJ will receive injections thru the FED (possibly via QE2 or QE3 or whatever) but this will not help but instead propel the Yen even further down. “

    Markets don’t have to be rational. The Yen should take a hit, because Japan is poorer than it was before the Tsunami. Some of this market action is wrongly placed. The damage in the North should concern us more, not the emergency at the nuclear power plant.

    "The writing is on the wall for the upcoming hyperinflation as sure as this is the worst disaster in human history but you have people thinking uranium is a good buy after tanking 20% -- unbelievable!”

    The hyperinflation was written on the wall when the US government started monetizing more than 40% of the federal budget. The fact that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency makes this a world wide problem.

    All that Japan’s problems do is make it harder for the Fed to stave off the inevitable and may bring it on quicker. I expect that the Markets will make an unwarranted recovery when the emergency at Fukushima is stabilized.

    This is not the "worst disaster in human history.” Stop being hyperbolic. It helps no one, not even yourself. It is a given that in any crisis, some people will run in circles, scream and shout. Ignore them. Protect yourself. Get a grip.

    ReplyDelete
  40. To Louis:

    I'm not posting to fight. Nor am I a leftist.
    I am reasonable that is why I trying to say look at the facts and draw you own conclusions (from the very little news that is coming through).

    When Chernobyl occured all news agengies downplayed what had really occured. Even today they have you believe according to the UN that only 4000 deaths are related to it -- that's simply false. the devastating long term health impacts of Chernobyl have been routinely downplayed.

    As a 2010 book published by the New York Academy of Sciences documents, “Nearly one million people around the world died from exposure to radiation released by the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor.”

    The book, written by Alexey Yablokov of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy in Moscow, and Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko of the Institute of Radiation Safety, completely demolishes claims made by the WHO and the IAEA that the disaster only lead to only 9,000 deaths.

    “Drawing upon extensive data, the authors estimate the number of deaths worldwide due to Chernobyl fallout from 1986 through 2004 was 985,000, a number that has since increased.”

    Janette Sherman, MD, the physician and toxicologist who edited the book, notes that the consequences of Chernobyl “were far worse than many researchers had believed”.

    I'd like to let you know that I'm not against nuclear power. HOWEVER why don't we focus on the real issue:
    We agree that GE engineers have routinely stated these reactrs were unsafe over 40 years ago. TEPCO (the plant operator) had stored 600,000 spent nuclear rods from the last 40 Years on premises in plant 3 and 4!!! All this while inspections by IAEA were done 1 day a year throughout all these years. Don'tcha think they would of said something all this time? Do you know that GE built these plants, the same GE that has an overwelming interest in media corporations? The same media that is covering this...

    Think about it. Are we getting the radiation levels readings around the plant either by the Japanesse or US?
    How come there's hardly any images being shown in the media?

    Mark my words: There will be no power line that will be run to the plant. The radiation will not be contained; despite what they might say -- if TEPCO was that smart to keep spent rods for the last 40 yrs I'm certainly not going to trust them to have the current situation under control. Radioactive Cesium has a half-life of 30 years. Do you know what is the half-life of radioactive Uranium/Plutonium?

    You're right that this incompetent SOB kept his hands off. Not that he could do anything, anyway. But...

    I have to correct you, The US military does have highly competent nuclear division. And if you're saying that this whole situation is under control and the radiation is contained then why would they remove their personnel from possible harm?


    BTW, the cores are damaged beyond repair. If they were pouring salt water on them (which is a last ditch effort), they already knew that would not be salvaging the cores. All those explosions (plant #3 plume went up thousands of feet up in the atmosphere) and ongoing fires and you think that it's only hydrogen that went up? Yeah, those spent rods are still there because they have an invisible protection shielding them from all the fires+explosions.

    Reminds me of all the times everyone buys what they feed us:

    - The air is safe to breathe the EPA said the day after 911.

    - Ben Bernanke: the morgage crisis is contained.

    - The recession officially ended in 2009.

    What nuclear meltdown? That was just a small fire everything is under control :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. mliu said…
    "They lost 20 to 30% of all power. And eastern Japan might be totally destroyed and become waste land if plutinium got out.”


    The plutonium won’t get out. That is why they built containment domes.

    The real problems are from the Tsunami. It may take a decade before the salt is out of the North’s croplands. And the Earthquake need to be recovered from. The markets are responding to short term jitters like after any crisis.

    "They will print more money to save economy, Well why don't they just print yen and buy everyting with fiat money like USA?”

    The problem is that the Japanese government will stop propping up the dollar, so this brings on the collapse quicker. They are the second biggest holders of our Treasuries. What if they sell?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous said…

    "I'm not posting to fight. Nor am I a leftist.”

    Glad to hear it.

    "I am reasonable that is why I trying to say look at the facts and draw you own conclusions ....”

    You are listening too much to Anti-nuke fanatics. They take unscientific positions including the one which the book you cited is based on. Zero radiation is not the most healthy. Experiments say that three times normal background radiation is healthier, and Chernobyl raised the world’s radiation levels by under a hundredth of a percent. Anti-oxidants which the body produces to fight radiation helps with other ills. The radiation at higher elevations, like Denver, should produce more cancer than at sea level, but the opposite is true.

    "I'd like to let you know that I'm not against nuclear power. HOWEVER why don't we focus on the real issue:
    We agree that GE engineers have routinely stated these reactrs were unsafe over 40 years ago. ... Don'tcha think they would of said something all this time? ... the same GE that has an overwelming interest in media corporations? The same media that is covering this… “

    You are drawing too many false conclusions and blaming the wrong people. Where were the nuclear regulators is all this? Why didn’t they step in to stop a dangerous situation since this is their mandate? I assumed you were a Leftist because you were so anti-business.

    "Think about it. Are we getting the radiation levels readings around the plant either by the Japanesse or US?”

    Yes, but our instruments are very sensitive and the readings are not harmful. Temporary readings of five times normal background radiation can be disregarded. The radioactive materials which were released have very short half lives. It takes only a few hours to decay.

    "How come there's hardly any images being shown in the media?”

    Maybe, because TEPCO won’t allow reporters on the plant site, because they are nincompoops? They would kill themselves trying to get a story.

    "Mark my words: There will be no power line that will be run to the plant. The radiation will not be contained; despite what they might say -- if TEPCO was that smart to keep spent rods for the last 40 yrs I'm certainly not going to trust them to have the current situation under control. “

    Let me repeat something. If the retaining wall had been over 70 feet, instead of 62.5, then we wouldn’t be talking about this. This was a, one in a hundred year, situation which TEPCO insufficiently prepared for. There were cascading failures, including bad planning. Even so, this situation will be contained. A massive release of radiation won’t happen. The secondary radioactive materials inside the cores will have decayed in a week or so. That is the source of the meltdown problem. This is containable if they can keep enough water on the cores.

    ReplyDelete
  43. "I have to correct you, The US military does have highly competent nuclear division. “

    Yes, but it is not their responsibility. Did TEPCO ask for help and was refused?

    "And if you're saying that this whole situation is under control and the radiation is contained then why would they remove their personnel from possible harm?”

    Have you never heard of contingency planning? The Military has its own operational responsibilities which it can perform from many bases in the far east.

    Nor have I said that the situation was under complete control. I said that this is an emergency, but that the primary dangers are to the plant workers not to the general public. Mistakes have been made, but it helps no one to imagine events which are unlikely or impossible.

    "BTW, the cores are damaged beyond repair. If they were pouring salt water on them (which is a last ditch effort), they already knew that would not be salvaging the cores. “

    Yes, but three other cores aren’t damaged. They will be brought on line as soon as the Tsunami damage is corrected, because Japan needs the power. The radiation at the plant will quickly decay. We are talking about a week or two after the emergency is brought under control.

    "All those explosions (plant #3 plume went up thousands of feet up in the atmosphere) and ongoing fires and you think that it's only hydrogen that went up?”

    Yes.

    The steam released had tiny amounts of radioactive materials in them. The plant workers knew that. Their mistake was in releasing the steam inside the outer buildings to give the radioactive materials time to decay. That is where the explosions came from. High temperatures disassociate the hydrogen and oxygen in water. That can explode when dumped out side the dome.

    "Yeah, those spent rods are still there because they have an invisible protection shielding them from all the fires+explosions.”

    As long as water is poured on them, those spent rods are safe.

    "Reminds me of all the times everyone buys what they feed us:

    What nuclear meltdown? That was just a small fire everything is under control :)”

    You know just enough about this situation to be dangerous -- to yourself if no one else. Get a grip.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anonymous said…

    "I'm not posting to fight. Nor am I a leftist.”

    Glad to hear it.

    "I am reasonable that is why I trying to say look at the facts and draw you own conclusions ....”

    You are listening too much to Anti-nuke fanatics. They take unscientific positions including the one which the book you cited is based on. Zero radiation is not the most healthy. Experiments say that three times normal background radiation is healthier, and Chernobyl raised the world’s radiation levels by under a hundredth of a percent. Anti-oxidants which the body produces to fight radiation helps with other ills. The radiation at higher elevations, like Denver, should produce more cancer than at sea level, but the opposite is true.

    "I'd like to let you know that I'm not against nuclear power. HOWEVER why don't we focus on the real issue:
    We agree that GE engineers have routinely stated these reactrs were unsafe over 40 years ago. ... Don'tcha think they would of said something all this time? ... the same GE that has an overwelming interest in media corporations? The same media that is covering this… “

    You are drawing too many false conclusions and blaming the wrong people. Where were the nuclear regulators is all this? Why didn’t they step in to stop a dangerous situation since this is their mandate? I assumed you were a Leftist because you were so anti-business.

    "Think about it. Are we getting the radiation levels readings around the plant either by the Japanesse or US?”

    Yes, but our instruments are very sensitive and the readings are not harmful. Temporary readings of five times normal background radiation can be disregarded. The radioactive materials which were released have very short half lives. It takes only a few hours to decay.

    "How come there's hardly any images being shown in the media?”

    Maybe, because TEPCO won’t allow reporters on the plant site, because they are nincompoops? They would kill themselves trying to get a story.

    "Mark my words: There will be no power line that will be run to the plant. The radiation will not be contained; despite what they might say -- if TEPCO was that smart to keep spent rods for the last 40 yrs I'm certainly not going to trust them to have the current situation under control. “

    Let me repeat something. If the retaining wall had been over 70 feet, instead of 62.5, then we wouldn’t be talking about this. This was a, one in a hundred year, situation which TEPCO insufficiently prepared for. There were cascading failures, including bad planning. Even so, this situation will be contained. A massive release of radiation won’t happen. The secondary radioactive materials inside the cores will have decayed in a week or so. That is the source of the meltdown problem. This is containable if they can keep enough water on the cores.

    ReplyDelete
  45. The TRUTH as to why Japan kept this old model of reactors has not been told.

    For over a decade now, Japan has been fast-breeding their plutonium stockpile from their initial purchase of 45 tonnes to god knows how many tonnes now, but they bragged not too long ago that they have enough to make 4000 nukes.

    The First Generation Reactors such as Fukushima are fast-breeders of plutonium fuel, which is why they never updated their reactors even though the newer models are far safer, more efficient, less expensive and wasteful.

    Reactor No.Three at Fukushima is getting almost all of their death-defying attention because it contains MOX, a mix of uranium and plutonium, and an explosion releasing plutonium would indeed be far, far worse than burning uranium.

    ReplyDelete
  46. To Louis:

    I have a grip. What is scary is that you teach a course on nuclear reactors. I guess you know as much about rediation as Helicopter Ben knows how to handle the world's economy.

    This is as containable as was the morgage debacle. A massive release of radiation won’t happen is just like saying and/or believing that the US economy will recover.

    Wake up!

    ReplyDelete
  47. We disagree, Anonymous. At least, I know enough that Chernobyl and Fukushima are not remotely similar. Chernobyl didn’t have a containment dome, Fukushima does. Hence, the core material will not escape. There is no China Syndrome. That defies physics.

    There are dangers here, but one of the greatest dangers is panic. No Western Light Water containment dome has ever been breached. Nor is it likely here. I am not minimizing the dangers; just looking at them realistically. Your fears are unwarranted.

    The problem at Fukushima is with secondary radiation. That would cause a meltdown; it will be decayed in a few weeks.


    The US economy will recover, but only after it has paid for its monetary sins. Helicopter Ben Bernanke could have nipped our problems in the bud by pulling a Paul Volcker in 2007. He should have allowed interest rates to rise to market levels. Better yet, Congress should have stopped spending, but good luck at getting that.

    Once the FED decided to inflate its way out of the government’s entitlement debts, we, inevitably, had to go though either a recession or a hyperinflation. A recession would be better for the country, but neo-Keynesians disagree. They see deflation as a catastrophe. They don’t even consider a hyper inflation or think that it will happen beyond their control.

    If Hoover and FDR hadn’t been constantly meddling with the economy and inflating the money supply, the '29 crash would have been over in a year. Instead, it took 12 years and a world war.

    ReplyDelete
  48. To Louis:

    Who is "we"? This is your opinion.

    You're right on one thing though... Fukushima is not Cherbonyl.

    It's much much worse. Containment dome what containment dome? Take a look at the pictures.

    Shows how much you really know. The 3rd reactor is NOT a light water reactor. It's a MOX reactore which uses 93% uranium and 7% plutonium.

    There is a meltdown whether or not the plant operator / Japanase/US gov. admit or not.

    You know as much about radiation as yuo do about the economy. Congress will never stop spending. It's never happened. And Volker aided in the cause for the FED to do what it did in 1971, the fact that he is hailed as saving the US in late '70 for raising interest rate is an utter joke!

    But since you're Keneysian you can never wake up to reality!

    And the war is not the reason why the US got out of the great depression. Since when does war create whealth?

    The US getting out of recession has the same odds as those cores being intact.

    Answer the question what is the half life of uranium and plutonium?

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  49. "To Louis: Who is "we"? This is your opinion.”

    I meant that you and I disagree. I made no appeals to authority. This was a short hand way of saying that we will never agree, so why argue?
    I had made my case and you rejected it out of hand.

    "It's much much worse. Containment dome what containment dome? Take a look at the pictures.”

    Appearances can be deceiving. TEPCO built a sheet metal building over the top of the reactors and turbines. That is not uncommon in cold countries. You can see this fact in diagrams on the web.

    "The 3rd reactor is NOT a light water reactor. It's a MOX reactor which uses 93% uranium and 7% plutonium.”

    I knew that, but it confuses people when I add too much detail. It doesn’t change the dynamics much, just adds some complications. I was mostly replying to your errors and misconceptions.

    "There is a meltdown whether or not the plant operator / Japanese /US gov. admit or not.”

    A meltdown is not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that radiation will escape the containment domes. It means that the innermost of the three containment levels has broken down. This complicates things, but not irretrievably.

    "Congress will never stop spending. “

    I agree. That is why I believe we will have a hyperinflation.

    "And Volker aided in the cause for the FED to do what it did in 1971, the fact that he is hailed as saving the US in late '70 for raising interest rate is an utter joke!”

    Volcker kicked the can down the road. He never stopped inflating the money supply, so he never solved the problem. Bernanke isn’t attempting to do even that. Ben may be foolish enough to think that he can control events. If so, he is delusive. Besides, conditions were different in 1977: America was a creditor nation then.

    "But since you're Keynesian you can never wake up to reality!”

    You are a fool if you think I am a Keynesian. Either that or you can’t read. I have written nothing which would imply this. I am no friend of the FED.

    "And the war is not the reason why the US got out of the great depression. Since when does war create wealth?”

    When Roosevelt entered the build up to war with Lead-lease his behavior changed; he stopped meddling internally. The government’s interference in the economy during the depression did more damage than the second world war. The war allowed relative wages and prices to fall toward reality. The war accidentally corrected the Democrat’s economic distortions. When the Republicans got control of Congress in 1946, they cut taxes and federal spending. The economy took off.

    "The US getting out of recession has the same odds as those cores being intact.”

    Whether those cores are intact is unimportant. The secondary radiation will decay in weeks. The reactors can be salvaged. The three undamaged reactors will be brought on line within a few months. Japan needs the power.

    The US will, eventually, get out of the recession when the government stops screwing with the money supply and the economy. If the Democrats remain in control, that means never.

    Ps. Here is an over view by another author from a libertarian group -- American Thinker.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/03/the_nuke_scare.html

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  50. BBC reported that a power line has reached the plant, so water pumps can, shortly, be used to cool the cores. So long as water is placed in the cores covering the radioactive materials and on the fuel rods, then no emergency exist.

    In three weeks to a month, the secondary radiation will get low enough so that salvage work can be started.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12779512

    One person has died at the nuclear power plant. And the health of just short of a hundred workers may be affected. The radiation released has not been high enough to hurt anyone outside the plant perimeter.

    Meanwhile, 5, 692 people are known dead and 9, 506 are missing in the Tsunami. 308, 000 are living in temporary shelters and the weather is cold or snowy.

    Naturally, all the above should be ignored to concentrate on Fukushima Dai-ichi.

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