Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crisis in Japan Deepens/G7 comes to financial rescue with Japan

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen:

First of all,I would like to announce that Sheila Bair decided to give her troops the week off and thus there were no bank failures reported last night.

Gold closed Friday at comex closing time at $1415.90 for a gain of $11.90.  Silver also had a good day rising by 80 cents to $35.06.  In the access market, gold continued its advance finished the global session at $1419.70 and silver at $35.28.

Before commencing my commentary, it seems that the CME has two official sites for open interest.
Occasionally, when they finalize their open interest and one site is off with its OI numbers..  I use this official site as it gives me everything I need:

http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/energy/nymex-daily-reports.html

it gives the gold and silver settlements, the backwardation, the total open interest, the individual open interest of each trading month, the notices to deliver and the changes in inventory of the metals.
The CME also produces the OI and volume at their bulletin.
On Monday last, the CME apparently issued two conflictling OI reports and then finalized them both.
The site above issued an OI of 519,925 and the bulletin issued a finalized OI of 514968.
I phoned the CME on this and they were very perplexed as to the discrepancy.  They asked me to use the bulletin for the OI numbers.  I told them I am very concerned that a discrepancy like this occurs.  He had no answers.  I have written to Bart Chilton on this and I will get back to you on this.

The total gold comex OI on both sites came in at 497,543 contracts, a loss of 4,076 contracts from Thursday's level reading of 501,619.  The reading on Friday night is basis Thursday night. Gold had a good day rising by $8.00 on Thursday so we probably had some banking short covering.  The front options expiry month of March saw its OI rise from 13 to 37 for a gain of  24 contracts which generally means that someone (a banker) was in need of gold in a hurry. All eyes will be on the new front month of April and its rate of contraction has been very slow.  Yesterday the OI for Friday fell by only 7399 contracts with less than 2 weeks to first day notice.( the fall in OI in the April month registers at 224,972 from Thursday's level of 232,371)  This is surely bothering our bankers as they now have a new worry, gold, as well as silver.  We will be watching this development for you as the month of April rolls around. The estimated volume yesterday was anemic at 131,564.  The confirmed volume for Thursday was a very low 124,930.
This is of great concern to the CFTC as it indicates that business is flowing to other jurisdictions to buy the gold metal.

Let us head over to the silver comex.  The total OI remained constant at 132,608 dropping only 208 contracts despite silver's drop on Thursday of 28 cents.  The bankers seems to be keying on silver and you will see why below.  The front silver delivery month of March saw its OI fall from 1054 to 893 for a loss of  161 contracts. We had 131 deliveries so most of the contraction in OI was due to those deliveries.
The estimated volume at the silver comex was pretty good at 56,137.  The confirmed volume on Thursday was a little better than originally estimated at 60,333.  The bankers have been quite nervous on silver these days.


Here is a chart for March 19. 2011 on deliveries and inventory changes at the comex:

Silver
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventory
zero oz
Withdrawals from customer Inventory
530,031 oz
Deposits to the dealer Inventory
zero oz
Deposits to the customer Inventory

694,164 oz
No of oz served (contracts )  ZERO
ZERO OZ
No of notices to be served  893
4,465,000 oz


Gold
Withdrawals from Dealers Inventory
zero oz
Withdrawals from customer Inventory
zero oz.
Deposits to the dealer Inventory
2,000 oz
Deposits to the customer Inventory
zero oz
No of oz served (contracts)  22
 2200 oz
No of oz to be served  notices 15 or 1500 oz
1500 oz



OK. let us begin with the less volatile of the two metals gold.
First off, the CME reports that the dealer received 2,000 oz of gold.  The customer received zero oz
and there were no withdrawals. There were no adjustments. The dealer on Thursday had no deposits and thus no gold entered the customer. I am getting a little worried that the deposits going into the dealer are not real physical but paper.  I have noticed lately that the number of oz going in is exactly 2000.00, or 2500.00
etc.  The weights always vary and generally you see odd numbers like 2001 oz or 2002 oz..  To see exactly a nice round number entering the physical vaults leaves me to believe that some sort of paper gold is entering.

The comex folk notified us that 22 contracts for delivery were sent down for servicing. I guess by coincidence, this total is 2200 oz of gold.
The total number of notices sent down so far this month total 1140 for a total of 114,000 oz of gold.
To obtain what is left to be served, I take the OI for March at 37 and subtract out 22 deliveries which gives me 15 notices left to be served upon or 1500 oz of gold.

Thus the total number of gold oz standing in this non delivery month is as follows:

114,000 oz (served)  +  1500 oz (to be served)  =    115,500 oz or 3.59 tonnes of gold. We gained 2,500 oz of gold from Thursday.  This has been an extremely strong month for gold in a non delivery month.

And now for our object of interest, silver.

Again, we had another volatile day at the silver vaults as silver moves around faster than the Lone Ranger's silver bullet. All the action occurred at the customer level.
Two customers received two lots of silver totaling 694,164 oz  (599,210 oz and 94,954 oz)
Three customers withdrew 3 lots of silver from 3 vaults:

1. first customer:   12,489 oz
2. second customer;  363,078 oz
3. third customer;  154,464 oz.

total withdrawal  530,031.

Net addition of silver to the vaults therefore was  164,133.
We had a tiny adjustment addition of 29 0z of silver to the customer.

The Comex folk notified us and this is totally mystifying us, a grand total of ZERO OZ of silver notices were sent down yesterday.  And this is in a delivery month!!!!!.  Blythe Masters must be beside herself on this.

Thus, the total number of notices remain at 978 for a total of  4,890,000 oz of silver.
To obtain what is left to be served, I take the OI at 893 and subtract out Friday's deliveries at zero which leaves me with 893 notices left to be served or  4,465,000 oz.

Thus the total number of silver oz that is standing for this delivery month of March is as follows:

4,890,000 oz (served)  +   4,465,000 (oz to be served) =  9,355,000 oz
Yesterday we had  9,510,000 oz so we most definitely lost  155,000 oz to cash settlements and probably a huge profit to boot. Nobody in the right mind would pluck 100% of the total cash waiting for delivery and then roll to the next month.  Because the next delivery month is equal to the current month in cost to the investor due to lack of contango it makes no sense to roll unless you receive your handsome reward.

Many of you are alerting me to a yahoo finance chat group discussion where one individual is having trouble receiving 3 contracts of silver and that the comex are offering him SLV paper with a 70% premium.
I have no verification as to the authenticity of this.  However I am trying to get this individual, if he exists, to contact me.

I would like to point out, that 4,445,000 oz of silver that remains to be served is huge with about 9 trading days left. Approximately 500,000 oz of silver must be served on average for the next 9 days. I think Ed Steer is going to lose his bet to his friend who bet Ed that the silver will default.  Let us watch this closely as the month of March ends.

end

Let us head over to our ETF's

Let us see how our non physical ETF's behaved today.

First the GLD: March 19.2011:

Total Gold in Trust

Tonnes: 1,226.40
Ounces:39,429,839.26
Value US$:
55,977,729,342.36


Total Gold in Trust: March 17.2011:



Tonnes: 1,217.30
Ounces:39,137,254.39
Value US$:
54,858,999,101.12

 




we gained a huge 9.1 tonnes of gold "inventory" yesterday.  The Bank of England must have been busy moving the gold from one hole to the other.  To newbies, the GLD gold is gold that has been swapped with the B. of E whereby the Bank gets cash and the GLD folk get gold.  This swap can be unwound at the B. of E's discretion
at any time.  Actually, the gold at the B of E is not theirs as well.  It has been put on deposit there by individuals like Arab citizens or Qaddafi or Mubarak.  It is like you putting money into a bank, the bankers could do anything they like with your money but it is a liability of theirs.  Can you imagine when the game of musical chairs ends.  As Jim Sinclair states;  the bang with the default at the GLD will be much bigger than the default at the gold and silver comex as many shareholders will probably storm the bastille against these bankers when they find that they have been defrauded on the investment in these precious metals.

How about SLV?  March 19.2011:



Ounces of Silver in Trust352,384,734.600
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust10,960.39
and March 17.2011:
Ounces of Silver in Trust351,896,645.600
Tonnes of Silver in Trust Tonnes of Silver in Trust10,945.21
We gained a huge 488,100 oz  of silver.

Obviously this silver will not be used to aid the comex folk in their deliveries.


The reason for the huge advance in "inventories" will be explained below as we discuss the events of yesterday.









And now for our physical ETF's:

First the Sprott silver fund PSLV:

the premium to NAV rose big time to 18.53% premium to NAV.
This is the real price of silver!!!!
The premium is telling us something big is happening to silver.

The Sprott gold fund PHYS:
the premium to NAV rose to 6.69%.

The Central Fund of Canada which is equal parts gold and silver:

 saw its premium to NAV rose  to 7.1%

end.


We had a good day all around yesterday with respect to the gold and silver prices and the physical ETF premiums.

Let us now head over to the COT report and see if we can glean anything there:

First the gold COT report:


Gold COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
240,661
66,090
31,471
168,330
388,484
440,462
486,045
Change from Prior Reporting Period
-12,773
3,596
-735
15,427
-11,883
1,919
-9,022
Traders
195
78
67
51
49
279
165


Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



67,298
21,715
507,760



-9,373
1,568
-7,454



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Gold Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, March 15, 2011



OK let us start:

Those large speculators that have been long somehow were spooked last week and they lessened their longs to the tune of  12,273 contracts.

Those large speculators that have been short added to their shorts to the tune of 3,596 contracts.
The commercials that have been long in gold added a monstrous 15,427 contracts to their longs.
And the commercials that have been perennially short gold, covered a huge 11,883 contracts to their short positions.
Strangely, the small specs did not like the layout of the land and they covered a huge 9373 positions from their longs.
Those specs that have been short added 1568 positions to those shorts.

In total the OI declined by 7,454 contracts this past COT week.
I do not think we learned anything on the gold COT report this week.  It looks like the commercials were trying to vacate the short arena in gold.

Let us head over to the silver COT report:


Silver COT Report - Futures
Large Speculators
Commercial
Total
Long
Short
Spreading
Long
Short
Long
Short
47,290
12,336
22,274
31,210
84,631
100,774
119,241
-3,104
436
2,115
369
-1,560
-620
991
Traders
83
41
44
35
47
142
112

Small Speculators




Long
Short
Open Interest



34,140
15,673
134,914



2,049
438
1,429



non reportable positions
Change from the previous reporting period

COT Silver Report - Positions as of
Tuesday, March 15, 2011



Here, the large specs that have been long covered some of their positions to the tune of 3104 contracts.
Those large speculators that have been short added a tiny 436 positions to those shorts in total contrast to the large short gold spec.
Those commercials that have been long silver added 369 positions to those longs.
And our famous bankers, JPM (Blythe) and HSBC covered some of their shorts to the tune of 1560 positions.
In the small spec category, those small specs that have been long added a rather large 2049 positions to their longs and those specs that have been short  added to their shorts by a small 438 contracts.

In nutshell, the only people supplying the paper silver is JPM and partner and they continue to do so
On the 28th of March, the CFTC will make their announcement as to positions limits and elimination of the phony exemptions.

end.

On Thursday night I told you that there was going to be a big meeting of the G7 nations on the Japanese problems.  The Yen was rising due to repatriation of yen as dollars were converted back to yen in the rescuing efforts of that stricken nation.  This threatened the yen carry trade which would have forced all investors to flee stocks.  It would also hinder Japan as a higher yen would hurt their trade.  The group of 7 nations all decided to massively print money to aid in the rescue of Japan and reverse the rise in yen value.
They needed to print more yen than yen repatriated.  The street saw this as a massive global reflation and this propelled gold and silver.

Here is this big story courtesy of Reuters:


JAPAN MARKETS-Shares jump, yen tumbles as G7 lends hand to Japan

TOKYO, March 18 (Reuters) - Japanese shares jumped 3 percent and the yen tumbled on Friday after the Group of Seven rich nations agreed on rare joint intervention to curb the soaring currency and calm markets jittery over Japan nuclear power plant crisis.
But the stock rally doesn't mean this week's dramatic gyrations are over because the crisis at the power plant is still unfolding and the full impact of last Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami is not clear, dealers said.
The move by the G7 to support the country as Japan struggles to cope with its biggest crisis since World War Two comes a day after the yen soared to a record 76.25 in chaotic trading.
"This is the first coordinated intervention we have seen since 2000, so it's going to have a very huge resonating effect on the market," said Kathy Lien, director of currency research at GFT in New York.
Stock markets elsewhere in Asia rose after the G7 bid to stabilise global markets, with the MSCI ex-Japan index up 1.5 percent.
The G7 decision following a teleconference surprised markets. Investors had expected Bank of Japan to intervene to rein in the rampant yen, but had not expected coordinated central bank action by the world's wealthiest countries.
The dollar rose more than 3 percent to around 81.75 yen after the G7 announcement, which came just as Tokyo stock markets opened.
Traders said the Bank of Japan was immediately spotted buying dollars. Media report said it is likely to have bought more than $25 billion.
The benchmark Nikkei share average <.N225> rose 3 percent, but is still down around 10 percent this week and is heading for its biggest weekly slide since the 2008 global financial crisis.
Trading volume was close to normal after the frantic gyrations earlier this week. Japanese government bond futures <2JGBv1> fell.
Japanese stocks suffered their worst two-day slide on Monday and Tuesday since the 1987 global stock market crash. That followed a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami on Friday that killed thousands and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
Workers were struggling on Friday in the latest attempt to cool overheating reactors and prevent further radiation leaks. 

LONG CORRECTION?
Shares of exporters, whose profits are eroded by a stronger yen, were prominent among the gainers on Friday as the G7 pushed the currency lower.
Fujifilm <4901.T> rose 5.6 percent and Kyocera <6971.T> gained 4.7 percent.
But traders said much of the gains were from short-covering, and the index may stall next week as investors wait to assess the full economic and human cost of the quake and efforts to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
"The main things investors are worried about now are the nuclear plant, the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on firms and power cuts putting pressure on Japanese manufacturers," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo.
Investors will be waiting for earnings figures and forecasts in late April and early May for a better sense of how the triple disaster will affect individual companies.
"This correction will be very long," said Tetsuro Ii, CEO of Commons Asset Management.
"We have the nuclear problems and impact of the quake on the economy, which is still hard to assess. I can't see the index bouncing back quickly to levels from before the quake." 

"NERVOUS BATTLE"
The yen's surge had initially been prompted by expectations insurance companies and other firms would repatriate funds to meet the massive reconstruction costs of the disaster.
The move was exacerbated when a wave of stop-losses and options-related selling kicked in, propelling the yen past its previous record of 79.75 per dollar that occurred in the wake of the 1995 Kobe earthquake.
Traders said the yen's retreat beyond 81 yen on Friday would put pressure on investors to unwind long yen positions.
But others doubted the longer term effectiveness of intervention, given the past experiences of the Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank.
"It looks like we’ll see a nervous battle between the BOJ and the speculators," Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
"Hedge funds have expanded their asset holdings to unprecedented levels, so even if it’s a coordinated intervention, effectively it may be similar to one-country intervention. So looking mid- long-term, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to curb it."
Benchmark Japanese government 10-year bond futures <2JGBv1> fell 0.05 point to 139.65, while the 10-year yield on the cash bond rose 2 basis points to 1.220 percent.
"Moves of JGBs are limited from the announcement as yields didn't fall much over the past few days due to caution over the Japanese government's fiscal position," said Hidenori Suezawa, chief strategist, Nikko Cordial Securities.
"Stock and forex markets are reacting more vividly as their moves were much sharper than JGBs after the earthquake."
-END-

Now let us head over to Japan and get the latest there.  First we have a summary update on the cable they are trying to connect in order to get the water pumping again:
(courtesy zero hedge)




Summary Update Of Japan's Nuclear Crisis - The Cable Quandary
Tyler Durden's picture



Below is the most recent summary update from Reuters on the Japanese crisis. The one topic that everyone is following, however, namely whether some cable is attached to some cooling installation that probably blew up on Monday or Tuesday, gets the proper treatment: i.e., in the span of 4 minutes Reuters reports two completely conflicting stories. Looks like we will be seeing more crocodile tears from TEPCO executives in the next few days.
  • From 10:52 pm ET -  Engineers have yet to attach a cable to Japan's quake-stricken reactors but hope to be successful either on Saturday or Sunday, the plant operator said.
  • From 10:54 pm ET - Engineers successfully attach a power cable to the outside of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station in a first step to help cool reactors and stop the spread of radiation.
Credible stuff.
More updates below:
  • Further cabling inside under way before an attempt to restart water pumps to cool overheated fuel rods. Engineers able to restart a diesel pump to cool reactor No. 5, plant operator says.
  • Plant operator says once power is restored, the next stage will be to check equipment is working and not damaged before trying to crank up the coolers at reactor No. 2, followed by 1, 3 and 4.
  • The U.N. atomic agency says conditions at the plant are grave but not deteriorating badly.
  • If engineers are unable to cool the reactor, the last option would be entombing the plant with concrete and sand to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak, the method used at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
  • Severity rating of the nuclear crisis raised to level 5 from 4 on the seven-level INES international scale, putting it on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, although some experts say it is more serious. Chernobyl was a 7 on that scale. - No plans yet to expand the evacuation area beyond 30 km at this point. Japan's nuclear agency said the radiation level at the plant was as high as 20 millisieverts per hour. The limit for workers involved in emergencies was 100 millisieverts but it has been raised to 250 for workers handling the Fukushima incident.
  • The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, says it could take weeks to cool the reactors. About 300 workers, wearing masks, goggles and protective suits are toiling in the radioactive wreckage.
  • Japanese PM Kan plans to sound out the opposition on joining a grand coalition to handle reconstruction policy following the earthquake and tsunami.
  • A man pulled alive from the rubble of a house eight days after the quake in Miyagi prefecture, one of the hardest hit areas.
  • Nearly 7,000 people have been confirmed killed in the quake and tsunami. Another 10,700 people are missing with many feared dead.
  • The Japanese government plans to dedicate up to 10 trillion yen ($127 billion) in crisis lending to businesses to help them finance day-to-day operations and repair damage, Nikkei said
5


end


The second story, courtesy of zero hedge states that the total radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.
Last year these complex at 1760 metric tonnes of nuclear fuel. Chernobyl had 80 tonnes.
However this year they added another huge 2517 tonnes of spent fuel rods to the site.
The total nuclear fuel at Fukushima is thus 4,277 metric tonnes or 24 x Chernobyl.

This is a very dangerous situation!! 

The Amount of Radioactive Fuel at Fukushima DWARFS Chernobyl

George Washington's picture



Science Insider noted yesterday:
The Daiichi complex in Fukushima, Japan ... had a total of 1760 metric tons of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site last year, according to a presentation by its owners, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). The most damaged Daiichi reactor, number 3, contains about 90 tons of fuel, and the storage pool above reactor 4, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) Gregory Jaczko reported yesterday had lost its cooling water, contains 135 tons of spent fuel. The amount of fuel lost in the core melt at Three Mile Island in 1979 was about 30 tons; the Chernobyl reactors had about 180 tons when the accident occurred in 1986.
And see this.

That means that Fukushima has nearly 10 times more nuclear fuel than Chernobyl.

It also means that a single spent fuel pool - at reactor 4, which has lost all of its water and thus faces a release of its radioactive material - has 75% as much nuclear fuel as at all of Chernobyl.

However, the real numbers are even worse.

Specifically, Tepco very recently transferred many moreradioactive spent fuel rods into the storage pools. According toAssociated Press, there were - at the time of the earthquake and tsunami - 3,400 tons of fuel in seven spent fuel pools plus877 tons of active fuel in the cores of the reactors.

That totals 4,277 tons of nuclear fuel at Fukushima.

Which means that there is almost 24 times more nuclear fuel at Fukushima than Chernobyl.


end.

I guess the following says it all as to the truthfulness of the Japanese reporting:


0


TEPCO Director Weeps After Disclosing Truth About Fukushima Disaster

Tyler Durden's picture



The Daily Mail has released a dramatic picture showing the emotional exhaustion of TEPCO managing director Akio Komori who is openly weeping as he leaves a conference to brief journalists on the true situation at Fukushima, following his acknowledgment that the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens. "A senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis. He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: 'The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans." This is precisely as Zero Hedge had expected would happen all along, following our recurring allegations of a massive cover up by the Japanese government. And furthermore as we predicted a week ago when we said that continued government lies and subversions would make the situation untenable once the population loses faith in the government, this is precisely what has happened.
A contrite Komiri crying after he discloses the truth:
And for those who believe the lies that TEPCO and the government has any control over the situation we suggest you read the following:
Deputy director general of the NISA, Hideohiko Nishiyama, also admitted that they do not know if the reactors are coming under control.

He said: 'With the water-spraying operations, we are fighting a fire we cannot see. That fire is not spreading, but we cannot say yet that it is under control.'

And Yukiya Amano, the head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said workers were in a 'race against the clock' to cool the reactor.

Attempts to quell the overheating plant with waterbombs from helicopters yesterday failed and despite the army pelting the site with water cannon, radiation levels rose higher.

Engineers are also working to restore power to the coolant pumping system knocked out by the tsunami.
Also, the Mail shows a dramatic photo of a crane used to move spent fuel rodes into a now empty storage pond.
pictures emerged showing overheating fuel rods exposed to the elements through a huge hole in the wall of a reactor building at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant.

Radiation is streaming into the atmosphere from the used uranium rods at reactor number four, after a 45ft-deep storage pool designed to keep them stable boiled dry in a fire.

And some of the radioactive material could reach Britain within a fortnight, according to experts.

However they say it will not be dangerous when it reaches our shores while low levels of radiation have already hit Southern California.
And while we descrbed the worst case scenario, i.e., the Chernobyl Solution, earlier, there is still hope for a last ditch deux ex machina over the weekend.
There was a potential breakthrough when engineers succeeded in connecting a power line to Reactor 2. This should enable them to restore electricity to the cooling pumps needed to prevent meltdown.

But it is not certain the system will work after suffering extensive damage.
Unfortunately, judging by how horrendously the government and the utility have handled the crisis so far, we are extremely skeptical any further attempts to improve the situation with fail spectacularly. In the meantime, the Japanese economy is slowing grinding to a halt as more people leave Tokyo, as factories lie dormant, and as high tech supply chains are suddenly halted. Out estimate, unlike that of an increasingly less than credible Bloomberg, is that the adverse impact to 2011 world GDP will be well at least 2% when all is said and done just factoring the events to date. Should the situation continue to stagnate it will get far worse.
4.877195
Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (57 


end.

and finally this summary from  Eric de Carbonnel:

FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2011


*****Japan concedes that Fukushima may be buried in concrete like Chernobyl*****

by Eric deCarbonnel

Frantic repair efforts failing—radioactive steam again rising from Fukushima
The New York Times reports about frantic repairs efforts at Fukushima.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
March 17, 2011
Radiation Spread Seen; Frantic Repairs Go On
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
WASHINGTON — … 
another day of frantic efforts to cool nuclear fuel in the troubled reactors and in the plant's spent-fuel pools resulted in little or no progress, according to United States government officials.

The effort by the Japanese to hook some electric power back up to the plant did not begin until Thursday and even if they succeed, it is unclear whether the cooling systems, in reactor buildings battered by a tsunami and then torn apart by hydrogen explosions, survived the crisis in good enough shape to be useful.
"What you are seeing are desperate efforts — just throwing everything at it in hopes something will work," said one American official with long nuclear experience who would not speak for attribution. "Right now this is more prayer than plan."


… On Friday,
 steam that was likely laced with radioactive particles was again rising over the plant, this time billowing from reactor No. 2…
Radiation fears prompt mass exodus from Japan
The Chosun Ilbo that radiation fears prompt mass exodus from Japan.
Radiation Fears Prompt Mass Exodus from JapanMar. 18, 2011 13:21 KST
Governments around the world are evacuating their citizens from Japan as fears mount over a massive radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in northeastern Japan. Narita and Haneda airports in Tokyo were packed with foreigners leaving the country on Thursday.
Tokyo Unsafe

Reports of 
higher-than-normal radiation levels in Tokyo prompted most countries to call on their nationals not only staying near the Fukushima power plant but also in Tokyo to leave the country. … Air France dispatched two planes at the request of the French Embassy in Tokyo to fly its citizens out.Some countries are temporarily shutting their embassies. As of Thursday, Angola, Bahrain, Croatia, Iraq, Kosovo, Lesotho, Liberia and Panama had closed down their embassies. The Australian embassy and diplomats said they plan to temporarily relocate to Osaka. ... Foreign journalists who have been covering the Fukushima crisis are also leaving from the region.
Chartered Flights

Asian governments are stepping up efforts to get their citizens out of Japan. Starting on Tuesday, 
the Chinese government deployed buses to the Fukushima, Iwate and Ibaraki prefectures, which were the hardest hit by the earthquake and began shuttling Chinese people to Narita and Niigata airports. On Wednesday night alone, 1,900 Chinese arrived in Dalian aboard China Southern and China Eastern flights. …

The Philippine government said it will foot the cost of airplane tickets for citizens either returning home or moving to other areas, while Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told officials to assist its citizens leaving Japan. 
The Indian government has chartered a B747-400, capable of carrying 400 passengers, to shuttle between India and Japan every day for the time being…

Meanwhile, 
the number of foreigners entering Japan has plunged. On one flight from London to Tokyo on Tuesday, only 20 of 300 seats were filled. The World Travel and Tourism Council forecast the latest earthquake and nuclear crisis will severely impact Japan's tourism industry, which accounts for 6.8 percent of its GDP.
Fukishima radiation reaching the US
Chicago Breaking News reports that Tokyo flight triggers O'Hare radiation detectors.
Tokyo flight triggers O'Hare radiation detectors12:06 p.m. CDT, March 17, 2011
Mayor Richard Daley acknowledged today passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at o'hare international airport, but he offered no details and said federal officials will be handling the situation.
Very low radiation detected on US west coast-sources
March 18
 Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:17am EDT

VIENNA (Reuters) - 
Very low concentrations of radioactive particlesbelieved to have come from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power planthave been detected on the U.S. west coast, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

"It is very low level," another source in Vienna said. [Low levels for now maybe, but what happens if/when Fukishima get worse?]
Even nuclear defenders begin to have their doubts
Reuters reports that Even nuclear defenders are beginning to have their doubts.
Analysis: Even nuclear defenders begin to have their doubtsThu, Mar 17 2011
By Ben Berkowitz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 
Even the most ardent defenders of nuclear power are starting to admit the situation in Japan looks bad.
On March 14, the Wall Street Journal carried
 an opinion piece from author William Tucker condemning those who were expressing concern about nuclear safety [see Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl (by William Tucker)] when there was the full devastation from the earthquake and tsunami to focus on.

On Thursday, 
Tucker told Reuters THE SITUATION HAD CHANGED SINCE HIS ARTICLE.
"I think 
that story probably has to be revised, we seem to be in deeper water now than we were originally," he said. "I think WE ARE FACING ANOTHER CHERNOBYL NOW OR SOMETHING ON THAT ORDER."
Japan concedes that Fukushima may be buried in concrete like Chernobyl

Yahoo News reports that Japan weighs need to bury nuclear plant.
Japan weighs need to bury nuclear plant; tries to restore power
2011-03-18
By Shinichi Saoshiro and Yoko Nishikawa

TOKYO (Reuters) – 
Japanese engineers conceded on Friday thatburying 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.

It was the first time the facility operator had acknowledged burying the sprawling 40-year-old complex was possible, a sign that piecemeal actions such as dumping water from military helicopters or scrambling to restart cooling pumps may not work.
"It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete. But our priority right now is to try and cool them down first," an official from the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, told a news conference.

Asked about burying the reactors in sand and concrete, Nishiyama said:
"That solution is in the back of our minds, but we are focused on cooling the reactors down."
Burying the reactors would leave part of Japan off-limits for decades. …
My reaction: Frantic efforts to cool nuclear fuel show no progress.

1) The effort to hook some electric power back up to the plant did not begin until Thursday, and even it works, the cooling systems may not have survived the crisis in good enough shape to be useful.

2) On Friday, radioactive steam was again rising over the plant, billowing from reactor No. 2…

Radiation fears prompt mass exodus from Japan
1) Governments around the world are evacuating their citizens from Japan as fears mount over a massive radiation leak

2) Countries are temporarily shutting their embassies.

3) Foreign journalists who have been covering the Fukushima crisis are also leaving from the region

4) The number of foreigners entering Japan has plunged.

Fukishima radiation reaching the US
1) Passengers on a flight from Tokyo had set off radiation detectors at o'hare international airport

2) Very low concentrations of radioactive particles have been detected on the U.S. west coast

Seriousness of situation starting to be acknowledged

1) Even the most ardent defenders of nuclear power are starting to admit the situation in Japan looks bad.

2) 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


Conclusion: Fukushima is on track to replace Chernobyl as the new "standard" for complete nuclear disasters.



We have now reached a level 5 out of 7 which is equal to the 3 mile Island nuclear meltdown in 1979.  To me, it looks like a 6 and we are close to a 7
and a complete meltdown. If that occurs then considerable radiation will spread upon the entire island of Japan and there would have to be evacuations. How will they ever evacuate 125 million people and to where?

They are now talking about encasing the complex with sand and concrete like
they did in Chernobyl in 1986.  Radioactive material still seeps out at this location into the atmosphere.

If we get to a 7 on the radioactive scale, then we will have a total financial meltdown as well as most derivatives blow up in smoke. It is impossible to avoid this with the economy in Japan in ruins.

Right now, much of the island is without food, without power as Toyko only gets 3 hours of electricity a day.  That shuts down most of the country's production.  We hope and pray that they get their coolant operating to save the island, but still 25% of the power is now no longer on the grid. The country would still have problems regaining their export superiority.
The earthquake/tsunami was the "black swan" event that would throw the huge monkey wrench into the global plan of recovery. Japan today has 5 trillion dollars of GDP and a debt of 10 trillion dollars.  Most of the debt is owed to its citizens who are now cashing in those debt obligations and buying gold or whatever they can and exit the country.

end

Let us head over to Libya and see what our good friend Col Quaddafi is up to:
courtesy BBC:

Libya: UK forces prepare after UN no-fly zone vote

William Hague: "This resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire"
UK forces are preparing to help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya after the UN backed "all necessary measures", short of an invasion, to protect civilians.
Downing Street has cautioned against earlier suggestions that British planes could be in action "within hours" and declined to put a timetable on it.
The UN resolution rules out a foreign occupation force in any part of Libya.
The cabinet met earlier and Prime Minister David Cameron will make a statement to Parliament at 1100 GMT.
MPs will debate the issue later on Friday, following Mr Cameron's statement, and there is set to be a Commons vote on Monday, government sources have indicated.
Labour have said they back the no-fly zone - meaning the government would be likely to carry the Commons vote.
Ceasefire call
The UN resolution imposes a "ban on all flights in Libyan airspace", with aid flights the only exception.
It authorises member states to "take all necessary measures" to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack", including in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, short of an putting an "occupation force" on the ground.
It also calls for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the violence, measures to make it more difficult for foreign mercenaries to get into Libya and a tightening of sanctions.

Analysis

Contingency planning in the UK, France and Nato has been going on for weeks, but will now be accelerated.
The UN resolution is so broad it allows military action against all threats to civilians - so could even involve bombing Col Gaddafi's forces on the ground if deemed necessary.
Britain could contribute Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft as well as reconnaissance and early-warning aircraft and tankers for air-to-air refuelling.
The resolution means they could also attack Libyan helicopter gunships as well as Libya's fixed-wing aircraft, most of which are Soviet-era fighters as well as some more modern French Mirage F1s.
However, many of the crucial final details still need to be worked out between the nations contributing to the mission to ensure that all the necessary means are in place.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was a "positive response to the call by the Arab League" for measures to protect Libyan civilians and was the culmination of "a great deal of hard work in the last few days" by France, the UK, Lebanon and the US.
"It is necessary to take these measures to avoid greater bloodshed," Mr Hague said.
Ten UN Security Council members backed the resolution while five abstained - nine votes were needed for it to pass.
France, the UK, Lebanon, the US, South Africa, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Colombia, Portugal, Nigeria and Gabon all voted in favour, while China, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany abstained.
Libyan reaction
Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces have recently retaken several towns seized by rebels in an uprising.
Rebel forces in Benghazi reacted with joy to the passing of the resolution but Said Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's son, said the resolution was "unfair" as the regime had "proved to everybody that there have been no air strikes against civilians".
In response, Libya has also closed its airspace to all traffic, according to EU air transport authorities.
Loyalist forces are bearing down on Benghazi, home to a million people. Forces loyal to Col Gaddafi have reportedly launched their first air attacks on the town, targeting the airport at Benina.

Start Quote

David Cameron will feel a sense of vindication tonight”
Col Gaddafi had earlier warned the rebels there that his troops were coming and to expect "no mercy".
Senior UN sources had said British and French warplanes could be in the air within hours of the UN vote to carry out initial air raids on Libyan positions, possibly with logistical support from Arab allies.
But No 10 sources have declined to put any timetable on possible British military engagement - or whether action could begin this weekend. The BBC's Defence Correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the UK and its allies had to decide what their initial targets would be and who would conduct the missions.
'Contingency plans'

Resolution 1973

UN Security Council members vote for the resolution at the UN
  • Imposes "ban on all flights in Libyan airspace" except for aid planes
  • Authorises member states to "take all necessary measures" to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack"
  • Excludes occupation force
  • Toughens arms embargo by calling on all member states to "inspect, in their territory, vessels and aircraft bound to or from Libya"
  • Widens asset freeze to include Libyan Investment Authority, Central Bank of Libya and Libyan National Oil Company among others
The resolution would permit air strikes on Libyan ground troops or allow attacks on Libyan war ships if they were attacking civilians.
A former head of the UK's armed forces said the "endgame" was to remove the Gaddafi regime.
"You can't attack him, so the point is that his military capability is what is sustaining him in power at the moment and he is trying to roll the opposition forces back, so they become the focus of the allied and coalition efforts," Lord Dannatt told the BBC.
A draft UN resolution tabled on Tuesday proposed a ban on all flights in Libya, authorised member states to enforce it and called on them to participate in it.
But on Thursday the US said the UN should go further and a new strongly-worded draft resolution was put forward calling for "all necessary measures short of an occupation force" to protect civilians under threat of attack.
Following the UN vote Mr Cameron had a half-hour phone call with US President Barack Obama and a White House spokesman said the leaders would "co-ordinate closely on the next steps" in conjunction with other allies.
The unrest in Libya started after the toppling of the long-time leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year.
Libyan protesters started to demand that Col Gaddafi step down after 42 years of autocratic rule and quickly seized much of eastern Libya.
Are you in Libya? Send us your experiences using the form below.
Send your pictures and videos to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to61124 (UK) or +44 7725 100 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.


end.

I think that about does it for today. I will see you Monday night.

If anything urgent happens, I will use either the comments section or I will 

write another commentary tomorrow.

Have a great weekend
Harvey


































































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