New Quake Rocks Japan

by Nat Brown

Drudge Report is reporting a new 7.4 magnitude quake has hit Japan, and that Fukushima is expecting a new tsunami to arrive in 7 minutes.

Japan Raises Alert Level

by Nat Brown

BBC News reports that Japan has raised the Fukushima plant alert level from a 4 to a 5 on the International Scale of Atomic Incidents:

Japan has raised the alert level at its quake-damaged nuclear plant from four to five on a seven-point international scale of atomic incidents.

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi site, previously rated as a local problem, is now regarded as having “wider consequences”.

The UN says the battle to stabilise the plant is a race against time.

The crisis was prompted by last week’s huge quake and tsunami, which has left at least 17,000 people dead or missing.

Japanese nuclear officials said core damage to reactors 2 and 3 had prompted the raising of the severity grade.

 

Full story here.

Miniscule Levels of Radiation Detected on West Coast

by Nat Brown

Reuters reports:

Very low concentrations of radioactive particles believed to have come from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected on the U.S. west coast, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

The level of radiation was far too low to cause any harm to humans, they said.

One diplomat, citing information from a network of international monitoring stations, described the material as “ever so slight” and consisting of only a few particles.

Japan Considers Burying Nuclear Plant

by Nat Brown

Reuters is now reporting that Japan is considering burying the Fukushima plant in sand and concrete, the same method used in Chernobyl:

Japanese engineers conceded on Friday that burying a crippled nuclear plant in sand and concrete may be a last resort to prevent a catastrophic radiation release, the method used to seal huge leakages from Chernobyl in 1986.

But they still hoped to solve the crisis by fixing a power cable to two reactors by Saturday to restart water pumps needed to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods. Workers also sprayed water on the No.3 reactor, the most critical of the plant’s six.

It was the first time the facility operator had acknowledged burying the sprawling complex was possible, a sign that piecemeal actions such as dumping water from military helicopters or scrambling to restart cooling pumps may not work.

Japan Trying to Restore Power to Plant

by Nat Brown

Reuters reports that Japanese engineers succeeded in laying a one mile long cable to the Fukushima plant, but so far cannot say when it will be connected.

Japanese engineers worked through the night to lay a 1.5 km (one mile) electricity cable to a crippled nuclear power plant in the hope of restarting pumps desperately needed to pour cold water on overheating fuel rods and avert a catastrophe.

Officials could not say when the cable might be connected, but said work would stop on Friday morning to allow helicopters and fire trucks to resume pouring water on the Daiichi plant, about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

“Preparatory work has so far not progressed as fast as we had hoped,” an official of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) told a news briefing, adding that a cold snap was hampering the effort.

 

Obama to Make Statement about Japan at 3:30 p.m. EST

by Nat Brown

Via Reuters:

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama will make a statement about Japan at 3:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, the White House said.

Earthquake Putting Japan Back on the Road to Recession

by Nat Brown

Experts say the earthquake and its aftermath could cost Japan 3% of its GDP ($188 billion) while also making deflation worse:

Japan’s economy seems to be in a state of almost suspended animation as its nuclear crisis shows no sign of ending, sorely testing analysts’ hopes for a swift rebound led by reconstruction efforts.

 

Indeed, with trillions of yen wiped off share markets and a surging yen currency squeezing the all-important export sector, economists fear an extended slump is inevitable.

 

“Japan will fall into a temporal recession,” wrote Susumu Kato, Credit Agricole’s chief economist for Japan in a note. He expects gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink this quarter and next, making three straight quarters of contraction.

 

He estimated the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck last Friday would take 0.6 percentage points from gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter and as much as 1.5 percentage points in the second.

More at Reuters.



China Suspends New Nuclear Power Plant Construction

by Nat Brown

While China is currently constructing 27 new nuclear power plants, they have suspended approval for new plants following the Fukushima earthquake:

China has suspended approval for new nuclear power stations following the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

It will also carry out checks at existing reactors and those under construction.

China is currently building 27 new reactors – about 40% of the total number being built around the world.

The news comes as China grows increasingly worried about the nuclear accident in Japan.

The decision to temporarily halt approval for nuclear plants came at a meeting of China’s State Council, or Cabinet, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

“We will temporarily suspend approval for nuclear power projects, including those that have already begun preliminary work, before nuclear safety regulations are approved,” read a statement from the State Council.

“Safety is our top priority in developing nuclear power plants.”

 

More at BBC.