A Japanese Black Swan? (The 8.9quake & 33 foot wave tsunami)

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Billy T, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    "... Japan was struck by its strongest earthquake in at least a century, an 8.9-magnitude temblor that shook buildings across Tokyo and unleashed a tsunami as high as 10 meters, engulfing towns along the northern coast.

    At least 26 people were killed by the 33-foot wave and many are missing, according to state broadcaster NHK Television, which showed footage of waves sweeping away buildings and vehicles as far as 1.5 kilometers inland. Airports were closed and bullet train services suspended. More than 4 million homes are without power, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.. "


    Do you think the economic fallout will be limited to Japan, or more global? Initial economic reactions seem to be mild:

    "...The Nikkei 225 Average fell after the quake and closed 1.7 percent down. Japanese government bonds rose sending the yield on the 10-year security down 2.5 basis points to 1.27 percent. ..." from above link.

    Billy T comments: the Japanese yen has not fallen with the Dollar or the Euro's recent declines wrt to gold. Perhaps it will now?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2011
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  5. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2011
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  7. AndrewH Guest

    Anyone living in the Pacific region should be aware of of Tsunami warnings. I advise everyone to check with local government sources to see up to date Tsunami Reports.

    As I am currently living and working in Taiwan (working for a Taiwanese IC house), I can tell you everyone here is watching the situation VERY closely. Thankfully, for now, it seems the tsunami has passed by Taiwan, but it may be heading for Indonesia.
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    With the advanced warning system upgraded since 2006 there's a much better early warning system in place now. They put in many more wave monitoring devices since that last big one and really have made many improvements with that system.
  9. sifreak21 Valued Senior Member

    the tsunami just hit california.. i am panic mode dont know what to do the 1-3ft wave will killus all!!!!

    ppl here in californa are panicing its quite pathetic actually
  10. AndrewH Guest

    Hey, 1-3ft waves are dangerous too...for the California chiuaua population. ;)

    From current reports, it looks like the tsunami is passing the Philippines and Indonesia without any damage.
  11. John99 Banned Banned

    Didnt it already pass them?
  12. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    More on thread is:
    " An explosion at a nuclear power plant on Japan's devastated coast destroyed a building Saturday and made leaking radiation, or even outright meltdown, the central threat menacing a nation just beginning to grasp the scale of a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. ..."
    From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110312/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_earthquake

    Japan has the highest debt to GDP ratio of all major nations (made easier to carry as the borrowing in mainly from its own savings population, not foreigners) but the repair will be harder to finance as Japan's productivity has been hurt. This was a black swan that broke dams, killed at least 2000, closed factories, flooded rice fields, set fire to a refinery, and as quote states: the full extent of the catastrophy is not really know yet.,

    At best this is going to end up like Three Mile Island. At worst like Chernobyl, which can not be ruled out yet as it does seem like there has been some core melting, control rod are inoperative and boron is being pumped in. A clear indication (to anyone with even slight knowledge about fission reaction) that continued fission / heat generation is happening. The critical question is can they remove that heat faster than it is being produced or poison the reactor with boron's large neutron capture cross section? In any case the nuclear power alternative has had a serious set back.

    A few facts: At 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the zirconium casings of the fuel rods can react with the cooling water and create hydrogen. At 4,000 degrees, the uranium fuel pellets inside the rods start to melt, the beginning of a meltdown.
    They had to release H2 to control the pressure build up inside the reactor - that was the fuel of explosion that destroyed the reactor building. There have been some reports that fission products have been released. Radio active iodine is one they are getting ready to distribute iodine pills for. (If you ingest a large amount of iodine, most will nearly immediately leave your body in urine, taking most of the radio active iodine out before it decays inside you with possible production of cancer, etc.) I.e. it seems clear that it is probable that parts of the fuel rods have failed - gone above 4000 degrees - releasing fission reaction products.

    I happen to be in Greece at the time of Chernobyl and some of the radio active cloud came there. I ate only canned food and as much idodized salt as I could counter balance with water and that resen laced wine, which is even cheaper than bottled water.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2011
  13. Billy T Valued Senior Member

  14. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    "... Japan's central bank injected 15 trillion yen (US$184 billion) into money markets Monday to stem worries about the world's third-largest economy.
    Stocks fell Monday on the first business day after the disasters. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average shed nearly 634 points, or 6.2 percent, to 9,620.49, extending losses from Friday. Escalating concerns over the fallout of the disaster triggered a plunge that hit all sectors. The broader Topix index lost 7.5 percent. ..."

    death toll is very likely to top 10,000. Yesterday 1000 bodies washed up on the beach.

    "... Some of Japan's biggest companies were affected:

    Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (PINK: NSANY) halted production at four factories in the area hit.
    Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE ADR: TM) closed two assembly plants and a parts factory.
    And Sony Corporation (NYSE ADR: SNE) closed six factories.

    "This is certainly the worst thing that can happen in Japan at the worst time," economist Nouriel Roubini told BloombergTelevision, noting that Japan's deficit is 10% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and repairing the damage from the quake will cost the country tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions of dollars. ..."

    From: http://moneymorning.com/2011/03/11/economic-aftershocks-japan-earthquake/

    "... A hydrogen explosion occurred at the No. 3 reactor today, following a similar blast on March 12 at the No. 1 reactor that destroyed the walls of its building. The utility has been flooding the three reactors with water and boric acid to reduce the potential for a large release of radiation... "
    From: http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aM5EfzMw6bk0&pos=9
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2011
  15. X-Man2 We're under no illusions. Registered Senior Member


    What are your thoughts on other Countries taking up the slack or even taking some of Japans business away from them? I imagine China and a few other Asian Countries might be looking at how they can take advantage of Japan's weakness now.

    Curious is all. Thanks.
  16. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    The Tokyo stock exchange drop 1.7% in the final hour on Friday as the news of the earthquake became available (but not the tsunami yet). On Monday the closes was 6.2% lower. Tuesday’s closes was a further drop of 10.55%, but it had been down 14% - the recovery was aided by trading delays, that helped break the selling panic. Possibly the slight recovery is more because the BoJ created 8 trillion Yen more today. All of the world's major markets are down now a few percent: See: http://www.topstockportfolios.com/r.../1/0/cc04a7decef63a35439a39cc6817cf1d189aa368 The DOW dropped about 200 points in the first 10 or 15 minutes.

    After market close, more bad news about the nuclear danger came out. Namely the spent fuel rod pool for reactor 4 seems to have been cracked, allowing rods to uncovered. This has the pool water boiling and the steam, incontact with the uncovered hot rod tops has been generating hydrogen which burned above the pool but was put out (or went out by its self?) There is now a hole in the reactor 4 building wall of several square meters. Probably a fourth H2 explosion caused it.

    The third H2 explosion was inside the containment vessel of reactor 2, and very likely cracked it as the internal pressure immediately drop (assuming the gauge was not damaged to give a false low reading) and external radiation surged upwards immediately after the explosion. If cracked it will be harder to keep fuel rods water covered, and authorities have said they are not fully covered. Thus there is more hot zirconium fuel rod cladding exposed to steam and thus continued generation of H2. More internal explosions seem probable to me.

    Reactor 3 appears to be growing hotter and it is known that its fuel rods were uncovered until a valve was made operative again. AFAIK, No. 3 is closest to melt down, but No.2. may win the race to that if its containment vessel is cracked and letting water out.

    Most countries are always looking for ways to grow their exports at the expense of others- That is what the "currency wars" are all about. It seems likely that Japan will have reduced production capacity for some years with electric power more limited. Also it is certain that there will be a huge recovery effort, so GDP probably will grow. I.e. years of stagnation may be over, assuming Japan can fund the recovery expenditures. I think more attentions by foreigners will be focused on how they can sell "recovery need items" to Japan than how to steal part of Japan's export markets. Japanese companies produce bulky to ship products all over the world and still will be making cars, etc. in the USA. Some car buyers may decide not to send any financial aid but may even buy a locally made Japanese car as their aid to Japan. Quite a few Japanese "ex-pats" will do that "buy Japanese" if you can, I am sure.

    It is very hard to guess how this will all play out. Citi has just upgraded Southern {electric} Comp.'s stock. Probably becuase they are building two nuclear plants, and the price of uranium will likely drop. (I have not looked but bet it and the U miners are already down.) making SO new plants more profitable than projections made before the quake had them. The electricity they will produce is not radioactive, just cheaper.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2011
  17. adam2314 Registered Senior Member

    Japan is China's largest customer..

    China will feel the drop quite quickly ..
    China has just posted their first deficit for many many moons.

    The Japanese housewife is a large investor overseas ( Uridashi's ) and will be
    scrambling to have the money returned to Japan.
    Signs of this are already appearing in the strengthening of the Yen..

    What next ... :shrug:

    Your guess is as good as mine.
  18. adam2314 Registered Senior Member

    No Generation111 Nuke plants have been approved even though they have been designed many years ago.. ( Pebble bed for one )

    They are much safer and smaller.. Maybe this will open the door for them.
  19. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    "... Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said Wednesday morning, "The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now.* Because of the radiation risk we are on standby." ... Later in the day, Japanese military used helicopters to survey radiation levels above the complex. The plan was to use helicopters to dump water on the most troubled reactors in an attempt to keep temperature levels from rising. However, the plan was later aborted due to radiation levels. ..."
    From: http://www.topstockportfolios.com/r.../1/0/eb2d289214896ebf1b044971d5d2f062f2a1776f

    BBC at 12:14GMT: "Japanese police have been asked to send watercannon truck to hose down the nuclear plant, Japan's broadcaster NHK is reporting, according to AFP."

    Billy T comment: Now it seems even the last 50 nuclear workers have joined the rest of the world in a "wait and see what happens" mode. :(

    On BBC report: Obviously the site is too hot (both thermally and in radiation) to go near.

    * All have pulled back half a Km from the plant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2011
  20. X-Man2 We're under no illusions. Registered Senior Member

    Found some high quality pics of the Japanese devastation.Really brings it home to see.If you have dial up be patient.

  21. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    "... Japan’s nuclear regulator said one reactor {unit 3} core at the quake-damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant {reactor containment vessel} may be cracked and leaking radiation.* … the plant operator, said it found eight different radioactive materials in the water of the turbine building basement, ... The materials are made through a process of fission, and include cobalt and molybdenum-99…

    Tokyo Electric plans to drain radioactive water from the turbine building of the No. 3 unit … “It has yet to determine how and when to do this, he said. The water that is coming out of that area is much higher in terms of radiation and this is obviously complicating the clean up,”

    The death toll from the quake and tsunami climbed to 10,066 as of 3 p.m. {Friday 25 March11} with 17,443 people missing, according to the National Police Agency in Tokyo. The spread of radiation to food and water supplies prompted bulk-buying of bottled drinks even as the government said the health threat remained minimal. ..."

    From: http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aF9wwJRyB.R8&pos=8

    * Billy T comment: If this is the case, it seems to me that the only solution is to quickly drain and contain the reactor core water and immediate replace it with strong boric acid solution. Then after a few days without further cooling efforts in which it is confirmed that the temperature is dropping as the boron kills the fission, encase it in a tomb of concrete.

    If the removal of radioactive water cannot be done prior to filling with boric acid, (due to temperature surge) then remove some water as boric acid is added, until the boric acid solution inside the reactor is not much diluted by non-boric acid water. This will of course greatly increase the volume of extracted high level radiation water that must be stored. Perhaps the volume that must be stored can be reduced by passing the “hot” water thru ion-exchange resins? They are expansive, but may be cheaper than storing a larger volume in many smaller concrete tanks that will not rupture in 10,000 years even by scale 10 earthquake. The water that emerges from the ion-exchange resins can be spread in mid Pacific ocean with great dilution. The radio-active resins can be mixed into the concrete of the “tomb” surrounding the reactor vessel.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2011
  22. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 9:30PM GMT 20 Mar 2011 525 Comments at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/...nd-China-is-leading-the-way-with-thorium.html

    “… A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. …If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.
    China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. {Billy T insert: mainly because making nuclear bombs with thorium is impossible – Thorium fission does not produce enough neutrons to sustain a chain reaction.} Dr Cywinski, who anchors a UK-wide thorium team, said the residual heat left behind in a crisis would be “orders of magnitude less” than in a uranium reactor.

    Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster. “The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert.

    For both the “pro” and “anti” sides of the thorium nuclear reactor, see: http://energyfromthorium.com/

    But here are some points, extracted by Billy T from that link and some points BT makes:
    Thorium is three time more abundant than uranium, and a natural “by product” of rare earth mining. (The US has already-mined supply of 3200 metric tonnes of thorium in Nevada that will meet US energy needs for many decades.)
    To supply the neutrons needed for a sustained reaction, an accelerator can be used, but more likely is to mix in a little U233 which decays with neutron release. One of the fission product of thorium fission is U233. Thus once the reactor is started it can produce the U233 it needs to keep running – only Thorium needed as “fuel.”
    In fact it can be designed to produce U233 at the same rate it is decaying. However, the production rate is not spatially uniform in a solid reactor core. Thus a self-mixing liquid core rector would be used (also having higher temperatures for more productive steam generation).

    Note that the utilization of the released neutrons is a function of geometry. A sphere needs fewer to sustain the reaction than a thin slab. A hemisphere, which could be the shape of the molten Thorium core if the spherical tank holding the molten thorium is only half full, needs slightly more than a full sphere, but far fewer than a thin slab, from which almost all released neutron would just escape instead of sustain nuclear chain reaction.

    Thus the spherical tank holding the reacting liquid thorium has a metal plug in the bottom, which melts, if the thorium core begins to over heat, as it could if the pumps supplying the water to be turned into steam should fail. Then the molten thorium runs out of the bottom of the sphere and falls into a large flat pan, where most neutrons escape to the air - the chain reaction immediately stops.

    The entire shut down depends only on gravity, no need for cooling water or electrically driven "control rods" etc. which can warp and jam, etc. I.e. SAFE, fully automatic, shut down only requires gravity. No water, no pumps, no electricity, no control rods plunging into the core, just gravity. Also note there are no fuel rods, clad with zirconium, which can (and does) react with hot steam to produce hydrogen and then hydrogen explosions.

    The energy cost of getting the “seed” U233 is much less than getting U235 separated from the 99+% of natural uranium, U238. This is because the mass difference is greater (5 not only 3 mass units).

    Summary: the cold war’s need for bombs took the world down the wrong nuclear energy path. The Japanese disaster may be a chance to change paths. China is leading the way to a rational energy future (and as coal will continue for more than 100 years as an important energy source, China has developed the "super-critical" steam boilers, which get almost 50% more electrical energy from each ton of coal.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2011
  23. Billy T Valued Senior Member

    "... The Swiss government has decided to phase out nuclear power, amid growing public hostility to the industry. The government announced it would not replace the country's five ageing plants after they reached the end of their lifetimes between 2019 and 2034. ... Switzerland currently gets about 40% of its energy from nuclear power. ..." From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13549985

    "... Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022. The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy. ..." From: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13592208

    BT comment: Good news for France which even after supplying ~ 80% of its own electric needs from uranium already sell power to Germany. Perhaps will (Or already does?) sell power to the Swiss too.

    About 95% of the useful U235 is still in them when they are removed from reactors (all reactors). France is also the world’s only repressor of spent fuel rods. With a little expansion of its reprocessing capacity and the import of spent fuel rods (US and many other would pay France a high fee just for taking them.) France should have very low cost electricity production for more than 100 years.

    Ironically, France which has always put safety first* in its government run program (never has safety been compromised for profit reasons as in many other countries, which let capitalism dominate the decisions) may be the most profitable.
    * For example, all the control rooms in France look alike. Thus, if someting is going wrong, the experts called in know immediately what every meter is telling them, not like at Three Mile Island where they misunderstood the gages for about two days and made the problem worse. (Thought they had a hydrogen bubble forming which indicated some some covered fuel rods, but did not, etc.)

    A final few words: More CO2 to be released in Europe than expected before the Japanese accident. This was truly a black swan for Earth, unless we convert to Thorium power. -see prior post 19 etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2011

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