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Thursday, June 9, 2011

LATEST UPDATE ON THE GREAT TOHOKU DISASTER

I have written four articles for the Huffington Post since the 11March2011 9.0 earthquake off Tohoku, Japan.  This is then the follow-up to The Great Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Cataclysm.

To quickly summarize, I flew into Narita Airport on 12March2011 to general consternation.  I trembled through two aftershocks of 7.1 and 7.0.  I could not get to Fukushima, but re-visited the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Parks.

Here are then the latest news:

1.  A Japan Atomic Industrial Forum report of today can be accessed through a click.  Remember, though, that the government, Tokyo Electric Power (fourth largest utility in the world) and the nuclear industry have continued to sanitize the reality.

2.  A whistle-blower's point of view, for, after all, the released radiation is apparently double what was earlier reported.  Got to also give credit to Tom Burnett, for he first wrote about the Fukushima reactor meltdowns.

3.  There remain around 100,000 in 2,000 shelters.

4.  The latest tally:  15,365 deaths plus 8,206 missing.

5.  Early (in April) estimates were $300 billion damage costs.  I haven't seen anything credible since then, but Hurricane Katrina was the largest insurance payout, about $50 billion in 2011 dollars, while the George W. Bush Administration estimated repair costs of $105 billion.  The Kobe earthquake cost $150 billion, and I was there a few days after the earthquake hit to view the destruction.  From what I saw, the Tohoku recovery will easily cost more than a trillion dollars.  Worse, the longer term nuclear effects will make much of the area around the Fukushima reactors uninhabitable for centuries.


6.  Tokyo Electric Power Company stock fell from $25 on March 10 to less than $3 during mid-session yesterday, but recovered to $3.25.  Here is the slide in yen (divide by 80):
As of today, TEPCO announced that they are prepared to avoid blackouts this summer.  Interestingly enough, other utilities on Honshu and Kyushu have also hinted of brownouts, not because they will necessarily be feeding into the TEPCO grid, but mostly because their nuclear plants have start-up concerns, whatever that means. Hokkaido appears to be surviving well, mostly because they don't need air conditioning and their utility power system is sufficiently different that they cannot help TEPCO.

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The Dow Jones Industrials jumped up 75 to 12,124, while world markets also mostly increased.  The NYMEX crude is up to $102/barrel, while the Brent Spot is just under $120/barrel.  Maybe the discord at the OPEC meeting yesterday represents the beginning of the end of their influence.  This, according to T. Boone Pickens, again.  Of course, he has been consistently wrong on just about everything the past few years so...

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Hurricane Adrian zoomed up to a Categry 3 at 115 miles per hour, but should weaken over the next few days:


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