Weekend Roundup. Focus on Japan

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
-       John Keynes

Sources: Zerohedge, BBC, Greenpeace and a smattering of CNN etc.

I thought long and hard before posting this. I hate to think or write based on conjecture.  It’s one thing to connect the dots but if I try to connect A to D, E, F etc. without knowing what B and C are I’m heading into tinfoil hat territory.  If I cling to this belief even after B and C turn up later to be entirely different than I supposed  then you may as well call the guys with the white coats to come get me.

Having said all that you are forewarned that if B and C  or X and Y are being deliberately withheld by the Japanese Authorities then make what you will of that.

Actual facts are had to come by. Even the experts can’t seem to agree on the basics of what constitutes too much radiation. Morons like Ann Coulter would have you believe a little Plutonium is something that should be sprinkled on your cornflakes in the morning. Only in moderation of course due to it’s expense.

What we do know;

A.     Tsunami hit almost without warning. We are told that the nuclear plants had enough time to shut the reactors down before the big waves hit. If this is the case then fail safes within the reactor cores will by their design keep the main reactor cores safe. Chernobyl had a test shut down that didn’t work as expected. What happened in Chernobyl obviously hasn’t happened in Japan where the reactor blew spewing all sorts of nasty radioactive stuff far and wide.

A1. However, at least one noted expert thinks one reactor may have a crack in it based on material detected outside the plant.

B.     I think we can all agree that there is limited information coming out of Japan. We all know the Chinese, Brits and Americans evacuated their people ASAP.  That could be read as knee jerk reaction or responsible move.  We also know various foreign naval ships are keeping their distance from Japanese islands.

C.     We do know the cooling towers have to have water continuously fed to them by any means possible and from any water source available. Seawater is a desperate attempt and very short term solution. Seawater evaporating will of course leave behind salt blocking valves etc.  

D.    We know there was an Israeli company contracted to monitor internal conditions in the plant long before this mess. They claim they have been denied access to their systems. Possible but not probable if you have ever worked in security then you will know the host company can only lock you out by physically severing the connection. You, as the security systems installer, always have a backdoor in by necessity. Again, what are the Japanese hiding? It would seem to be a simple matter to release this information if everything is not as bad as ZH etc. are saying.

E.     We know Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet. We know they have had internal strife with their own home grown  crazies in the form of Doomsday cults etc. They have more than enough bomb disposal equipment and other remotely operated robots with cameras. Why did it take a week to get all terrain remote vehicle(s) on site? Why aren’t we seeing what these robot(s) are seeing? I am sure Geiger counters, infra red cameras, wireless feeds are all possible. Where is the information?

F.     We know they had to run a half mile of electrical cable from a generator to the nuclear sites in order to get power there. This one little point is very important. But I’ll get to it later on.

G.     We know they were desperate enough to risk pilots in unshielded helicopters to dump sea water on the cooling tanks for spent fuel. The radiation was so high that they couldn’t get in close enough to make an accurate drop most of the time.  Or was it simply a matter of the temperature being so high it forced the helicopters off course? The Temp sensors are unfortunately inadequate for the job of reading temperatures. They only read as high as 400 Celsius. These temps have been exceeded.

H.    We know the cooling towers are where they put the spent fuel rods for cooling. The big question is how many rods are in these containers? They can hold many more than the recommended max. The reason there is a maximum is not physical capacity or size but weight and content. The simplest chain reaction occurs when you gather sufficient material in one place to create a chain reaction. For that reason responsible people don’t put too many eggs in one basket. It’s a possibility that they may have put too many rods in the cooling tanks. If the rods melt because of lack of coolant is there enough material there to go critical? The Japanese have been quiet on how much material is in these cooling tanks. In order for critical mass to happen depends on a number of factors. Mostly shape comes into play. A perfect sphere will require a lot less material than a fried egg shape so it’s an unlikely scenario unless the Japanese were really stupid.

I.      One of the first things about the Japan situation that raised my suspicions was; Why is this taking so long? Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island etc. all were relatively contained / situation understood within days.  In Japans case we seem to be making little progress and ground conditions appear to be worsening not getting better.  A couple of mainstream pundits tell us that Japan is a closed private culture. Well I am calling B.S. on that excuse. They are all of those things but they are not feudal Japan of old and they know.

J.       Japan is not really the biggest country in the world. MSM, go back to watching the rest of “Shogun” with Richard Chamberlain. Maybe watch “Too fast and too Furious” for a more modern understanding of Japanese culture.  Yes, I’m joking.  However, think of it like this. We have an understanding of Japanese culture. Wouldn’t it stand to reason they have an understanding of our culture? Wouldn’t they understand that we are willing and able to help and more importantly we think it is our right to know what happens.  There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this. They are not giving us information because it’s ALL bad. There is no good news here.

K.    Per zerohedge there was a report of a plane load of Tokyo residents being detained because they set off the Geiger counters on the USA side of the world. Nothing more has been heard on that subject.

I mentioned I have been monitoring Greenpeace etc. for my news sources. Greenpeace have been very careful not to be seen as anti nuclear and are reporting only what they know and not what they think. They have boots on the ground.  And I will quote;

“A new analysis prepared for Greenpeace Germany by nuclear safety expert Dr Helmut Hirsch shows that by March 23 2011, Japan’s nuclear crisis has already released enough radioactivity to be ranked at Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). This is the scale’s highest level, and equal to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Hirsch’s assessment, based on data published by the French government's radiation protection agency (IRSN) and the Austrian governments Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) found that the total amount of radionuclides iodine-131 and caesium-137 released between March 11 and March 23 have been so high that the Fukushima crisis already equates to three INES 7 incidents.” 

Let that sink in and then follow along to where we start skipping dots here. We already know the Japanese economy has been in a pretty poor state of affairs for a long time. If you go by debt to GDP ratio then the Japanese win the yearbook trophy for “most likely to implode” hands down. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_by_public_debt
So what’s the big deal about the half mile of cable attached to the generator? Simply this; Japans electric infrastructure doesn’t distribute electricity in the way we do. Moving electricity from one area to another is not really possible. One half of Japan is 50Hz and the other is 60Hz. Sure you could step up or step down but we are talking Giga watts not watts.
Fukisihima is a major electricity supplier to Tokyo hence the rolling blackouts. I have read estimates of between 10 and 20% of national electricity being supplied by Fukishima. I’m not sure if the writers were aware of the 50 and 60Hz peculiarity in Japan. If anyone has concrete figures on how much Tokyo depends on Fukisihima I am all ears.
There are reports of contaminated food and drinking water. Anything grown there or exported from this area will be suspect and tested. In other words food shortages, poisoning of locals maybe as far as Tokyo and economy to take another beating it can ill afford. Japan is an export driven economy and relies on cheap nuclear electricity for most of their needs. It’s exports we are all familiar with and they are pretty much at a standstill for the moment.
There are reports of bank runs being headed off at the pass by ATM’s being shut down. There is literally a lack of paper money out there as the worlds most conservative savers hit their banks up for walking around money or is it running away money?
If it’s running away money where do millions of Japanese emigrate to? If they get there will their Yen be acceptable currency if Japan is cordoned off like the Forbidden Zone in Planet of the Apes? I think the answer to that is obvious. This, of course, is worst case scenario.
We know the Japanaese are printing and the fear from some pundits is they would dump US treasuries etc. for cash needs. Again, going to call B.S. on this if you have a strong paper based currency based on being the third biggest economy in the world the last thing you are going to do is water it down further by dumping your US treasuries on the open market any more than you would dump all your Gold. I’ll go two steps further and say at the next Euro bond sale and the next US bond sale we will see the Japanese buying more than they normally would and we will see them sell more Japanese bonds than they normally would. In this way they can prop up their soon to be depreciating currency with our funny money. If they go down they will bring us all down. Tim and Ben must be thrilled that now they have a buyer for all their crap. In short Japan is toast economically in the short term. Their manufacturers may have no choice but to off shore manufacturing to keep themselves in the game. The question is will they bring it back? Is the Japanese businessman honorable or is he just as self serving as the American businessman?

This article refutes my notion of Japan being a buyer of US treasuries and says China is / will be the main buyer and purchased Pimco’s holdings when they dumped. I would say prove it: Saying it doesn’t make it so. It is also getting a lot of hits based on being published in Forbes http://blogs.forbes.com/robertlenzner/2011/03/10/china-buys-pimcos-treasuries-and-a-great-deal-more/
However, take a look at this and then decide which article is more likely to be true.
I have raised more questions than answered here but there are so many moving parts here and not all of the parts are visible. As the story evolves and information becomes available we will all have a better idea of what is really happening. 
Always keep in mind though .... Bears always have a more interesting story. In other words keep in the back of your mind newspapers sell better when they put "Murder" on the front page than "Hero".

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