Arnie Gundersen is freaking me out! Gundersen is no tin-foil hat guy, he’s the chief engineer of energy consulting company Fairewinds Associates and a former nuclear power industry executive who served as an expert witness in the investigation of the Three Mile Island accident. Gundersen has said that the U.S. nuclear industry and regulators need to reexamine disaster planning and worst-case scenarios, especially in reactors such as Vermont Yankee, which have the same design as the crippled nuclear plant at the center of the 2011 Japanese Fukushima nuclear emergency. Vermont Yankee and similar plants are vulnerable to a similar cascade of events as in Japan.
The Nikkei had fallen down to 8,227 from 10,678 (23%) at the quake and has since recovered 10,017 on May 2nd but was back to 9,648 on Friday (3.6% off the bounce) and the 50 dma has now formed an aptly-named "death cross" below the 200 dma. Japan is already on the hook for $124Bn from the earthquake and will also have to cover TEPCO’s $31Bn (so far) liability as the alternative is let the country’s biggest energy supplier go bankrupt and that would be lights out on their economy.
Warning: Do not watch this video on a full stomach:
Accident is a funny word isn’t it? With 435 active plant and 250 more under construction, even if they are 99.9% safe, that would still mean we get an accident like this every year. Hopefully they are 99.99% safe and we only have a major catastrophe every 10 years – wouldn’t that be nice but, so far, that’s not the case as we’ve had about 16 in 50 years with 9 of those considered "major." So accident applies to this situation in the same way…
Shares plunged across Europe, Asia and the United States on Tuesday as the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant deepened and Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised its radiological event scale to its highest level. Conditions at the stricken facility have steadily deteriorated despite the valiant efforts of emergency workers. The station continues to spew lethal amounts of radiation and other toxins into the atmosphere and around the world. A French nuclear group has warned that children and pregnant mothers should protect themselves from the fallout. According to Euractiv:
"The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer ‘negligible,’ according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against ‘risky behavior,’ such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves."
The group’s warning underlines the dangers posed by the out-of-control facility which is causing unprecedented damage to earth, sea and sky. But while the disaster continues to grow larger by the day, the government’s only response has been to expand the evacuation zone and try to shape news to minimize the public backlash.
Emergency crews have braved high levels of radiation to bring the plant back under control, but with little success. A number of violent tremors and a second smaller tsunami have made their jobs nearly impossible. Thousands of gallons of radioactive water that was used as coolant has been flushed into the sea threatening marine life and sensitive habitat. The toxic release of radiation now poses an incalculable risk to the battered fishing industry and to fish-stocks around the world. These costs were never factored in when industry executives and politicians decided to exploit an energy source that can cause cancer, pollute the environment for millennia, and bring the world’s third largest economy to its knees.
Raising the alert-rating to its highest level is an admission that a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects" has taken place and will likely continue for some time to come. The situation is getting worse by the day. Japan’s government will now insist on the "implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.” In other words, a red alert. The threat to water supplies, food sources, livestock and humans is grave and ongoing. The media’s efforts to protect the nuclear industry by…
Leaked water believed contain radation in a photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Company on April 2.
Sawdust. It’s not the first thing most people would choose to put between themselves and highly contaminated radioactive water. But a mixture of sawdust — ogakuzu in Japanese — with chemicals and shredded newspaper is precisely what nuclear safety authorities and power plant officials turned to in trying to plug a 8-inch crack in a shaft near reactor 2 at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima over the weekend.
Unfortunately, like the concrete they tried before it, the sawdust didn’t work, and as of Monday, the flow of irradiated water into the sea from the shaft continued unabated. “We have not succeeded yet,” Ken Morita, director of the international affairs office at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), acknowledged to TIME on Monday morning. “We will try again today.”
What will they try next? For the past three weeks, that has been the question hovering in the irradiated air above Fukushima, where each passing day seems to bring a new and unprecedented challenge for the ebattled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to shut down the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant safely.
Since Saturday, when TEPCO announced that workers had detected radioactive water flowing directly into the ocean, the crisis of the hour has been stopping and mitigating the impact of the newly found leak. On Saturday, NISA said it had found seawater about 25 miles south of Fukushima contained twice the normal limits of radioactive iodine. Officials say dye has now been added into the water to be able to trace the movement of leaked radioactive particles, and that workers will be setting up a physical barrier near the plant to try to stop their flow out of the direct area. “There are many important things to do, but in this current situation, many people are focusing on stopping the outflow,” says Morita. “Many options are now under consideration but we have not decided on anything.”
That kind of opacity — whether a symptom of sheer improvisation or a more calculated attempt to cloak the severity of an unsolved problem — has not won TEPCO, or the Japanese authorities, any fans in the international nuclear community. Without more information about what is happening at the crippled plant, nuclear experts outside
Radiation levels that can prove fatal were detected outside reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant for the first time, complicating efforts to contain the worst disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Water in an underground trench outside the No. 2 reactor had levels exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told reporters in the capital yesterday. Exposure to that dose for 30 minutes would trigger nausea and four hours might lead to death within two months, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Preventing the most-contaminated water from leaking into the ground or air is key to containing the spread of radiation beyond the plant. A partial meltdown of fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor probably caused a jump in the readings, Japan’s chief government spokesman said.
“There’s not much good news right now,” said Gennady Pshakin, a former IAEA official based in Obninsk, the site of Russia’s first nuclear power plant. “There’re questions arising on how much fuel will leak out, what isotopes will be carried and how quickly they will settle. It’s becoming less predictable.”
Tokyo Electric Power Co. found plutonium in soil samples taken near the stricken Fukushima Dai- Ichi nuclear plant a week ago, the company said.
The presence of plutonium outside the plant means there’s been degradation of the fuel in at least one of the six reactors, Denis Flory, deputy director general of safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said yesterday at a press briefing in Vienna. Tokyo Electric can’t determine which reactor emitted plutonium, Vice President Sakae Muto said in a briefing shown on a webcast.
The contamination “shouldn’t have any effect on human health,” Muto said.
Soil chemistry may determine whether the plutonium can spread from the site, Edwin Lyman, a radiological specialist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said on a conference call. Some compounds formed by plutonium are water soluble, and some aren’t, he said.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said there are “mixed signals” coming from emergency repair efforts at Fukushima. “The situation continues to be very serious,” Amano said in Vienna yesterday.
With nothing of international significance to predetermine US market direction, the trade from the opening bell was one of marking time in advance of the June FOMC press release at 2 PM and more importantly Chairman Bernanke's hour-long press conference at 2:30. Prior to 2 PM the S&P 500 traded in a narrow negative range and hit its intraday high at 2:01 PM, up 0.04%, Then began a three-stage selloff. The first was a brief knee-jerk sell when the Fed summary was released, one that was essentially reversed a few minutes later. The second started about 15-minutes into Bernanke's press conference, again one that was partially reversed. The third selloff came during the final 30 minutes with no reversal. The index closed down 1.39%, a microscopic 0.02 points off its in...
The Brazilian protests, which swept through the country with the raging bear market (and the pulled mega-IPO) over the past week, and which had the goal of reducing a recent bus-fare increase among other assorted protest goals, appear to have succeeded. At least when it comes to the fare increase. As for the other protester demands, listed below, it may take a little longer.
Brazilian leaders in Sao Paulo say they are reversing a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares that has sparked widespread protests across the nation....
No change to the statement as expected and Ben is speaking now. Basically he is dovish – one takeaway which I mentioned quite a few months ago but he reiterated today. The 6.5% unemployment rate is a threshold NOT a trigger. What that means is if inflation is benign when 6.5% unemployment returns, the Fed will be in no rush to raise interest rates. i.e. the goalposts are soft, nor hard. The market rallied on that… but it's not new news really.
Also the majority of members do not anticipate selling MBS off the balance sheet – this is part and parcel with the view that the balance sheet will not...
We no longer have a free market. The world’s financial asset prices have become a plaything of central banks and the sovereign wealth funds of a few emerging powers.
Julian Callow from Barclays says they are buying $1.8 trillion worth of AAA or safe-haven bonds each year from an available pool of $2 trillion. Nothing like this has been seen before in modern times, if ever.
The Fed, the ECB, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, et al, own $10 trillion in bonds. China, the petro-powers, et al, own another $10 trillion. Between them they have locked up $20 trillion, equal to roughly 2...
On the heels of the American Medical Association's decision to officially recognize obesity as a disease, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Reps. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced legislation today to help lower health care costs and prevent chronic diseases by addressing America's growing obesity crisis. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act gives Medicare beneficiaries and their health care providers additional tools to reduce obesity by improving access to weight-loss counseling and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management, among other provisions.
Health care costs related to obesity total nearly $200 billion each year. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and 42 percent of Americans are projected to become obese by 2030. Obesity increases the risk for chronic diseases ...
LZB - La-Z-Boy, Inc. – Shares in furniture producer, La-Z-Boy, Inc., increased as much as 3.9% to $19.80 at the start of the session, the highest level since 2004, ahead of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report after the closing bell today. Options volume is up ahead of the report, with roughly 400 contracts in play this afternoon versus average daily volume of around 80 contracts. Trading in La-Z-Boy call options is outpacing puts, with the call/put ratio up above 4.3 as of the time of this writing. Some traders appear to be p...
The market responded well today to good economic news and to the positive and somewhat surprising response to the election of a moderate Iranian President. Some moderation in Turkey didn’t hurt either, and overnight positive markets in Asia and Europe gave bullish investors enough encouragement to buy equities broadly.
This drove all three major domestic indices up about 1% before a late small selloff left the S&P 500 Index up nearly 1% and the Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average both up well over 0.5%. We think it likely this week that the market will challenge highs set in late May.
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I am going to share with you how I manage my IRA and the power of reducing your cost basis. My goal each year is a 20% return in my IRA. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don't, but I believe that all of my success is due to reducing my cost basis. To illustrate the power of reducing your cost basis here are some trades we did last year. These trades are taken from an educational portfolio we ran in a paper-trading account for a little more than a year.
We bought RIG on 5/15/2012 for $44.13, sold it on 1/18/2013 for $46 but booked a profit of $1,154.
We bought MT on 1/4/2012 for $19.24, sold it on 12/21/2012 for $15 but booked a profit of $454.
We bought CHK on 1/27/2012 for $21.93, sold it on 10/19/2012 for $18 b...
Stock market posts another record setting week, but the big news came after Friday’s close.
Courtesy of NASA
The stock market put on another record setting show with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) closing at a record high 15,118 and the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) closing at 1633.70, another all time closing high.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) gained 1%, the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) climbed 1.2%, the Nasdaq Composite (NYSEARCA:...
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Well, well, well....it is good to know that there are others in the scientific arena who believed that YMI Bioscience's data (cough - Gilead) is a better drug than Incyte's Jakafi. Now, the definitive data are still unknown, but there was enough evidence from a Phase 2 trial to take a small risk for a huge reward. So, let's forget about Apple (AAPL), and do nothing but biotechs from now until Congress passes universal health care coverage for prescriptions....and drive the prices down so that research and development is no longer feasible to conduct in the US. Even Seattle Genetics (SGEN) has been on a tear as of late...
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