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As Market Surges On Latest Deux Ex Machina Straw Man, Kyodo Warns "Chain Reaction Could Restart"

Tyler Durden's picture


While the future of the free market now hinges on some power cord which according to the AP "may solve the crisis", yet which we are a little skeptical is merely the latest deux ex machina that the prevaricating Japanese authorities are pulling out of their collective derrieres (remember the water and boron baths that were supposed to fix everything), a far more troubling report has emerged from the New Scientist (citing Kyodo) which may explain why TEPCO and Japanese authorities have been so tight lipped about the actual truth of what is happening at Fukushima. To wit: "The situation at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has
become extremely unnerving. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has now
admitted that the spent fuel rods could go critical - that is, a nuclear
chain reaction could restart.
" This would be an absolute worst case disaster which would make Chernobyl look like a dress rehearsal. Incidentally while hope and pray (to Ben Bernanke) may have been a viable strategy for stocks over the past two years, it will fail disastrously when dealing with a nuclear catastrophe.

From the report:

We have known since yesterday that the reactors themselves were
coming under control, and that the biggest threat came from the spent
fuel ponds, where the water level has fallen and temperatures have
risen. That could lead to the stored fuel rods breaking open, releasing
their radioactive contents.

Kyodo News reports:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it is considering
spraying boric acid by helicopter to prevent spent nuclear fuel rods
from reaching criticality again, restarting a chain reaction, at the
troubled No. 4 reactor of its quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power
plant. "The possibility of recriticality is not zero," TEPCO said as it
announced the envisaged step against a possible fall in water levels in a
pool storing the rods that would leave them exposed.

This is a real surprise. These ponds are a standard feature of
nuclear reactors, and are typically designed to ensure that nuclear
reactions cannot restart in the fuel rods. Among other things, the rods
should be widely spaced in the pond.

The BBC explains that the company is now "caught between a rock and a hard place":

If the fuel rods are dry and hot, there could be damage to
the cladding and the release of light radioactive nuclei. To prevent
that, you would want to inject water. But water on its own is a neutron
moderator and would enhance the chances, however small, of
criticality... [water] reduces the speed of the neutrons, meaning they
can be captured by uranium nuclei in the fuel rods, inducing them to
split. Without water, the neutrons travel too fast, and are not

Hence the company's proposal to add boric acid, which would mop up
the neutrons and hopefully stave off the reactivation of a nuclear
reaction. If this did happen, it does not mean there would be a
nuclear explosion, but the rods would heat up, the zirconium cladding
would probably split, and the likely release of radioactive material
into the atmosphere would be significantly higher.

In the longer term, questions will be asked about how the ponds wound
up in this condition, when it should have been completely avoidable.

We can only hope this is completely wrong as the alterantive would be total devastation beyond anything seen so far.

h/t Themos Mitsos


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Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:00 | 1062294 trav7777
trav7777's picture

restart of criticality in the SFP means all hell breaks loose...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062323 Quackking
Quackking's picture

Only *some* hell has broken loose at this time, according to government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The interview was conducted on horseback as all parties fled for the hells. I mean the hills.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:07 | 1062342 Michael
Michael's picture

This makes Al Quaeda look like little school girls.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:25 | 1062465 e_goldstein
e_goldstein's picture


"We bring glowing things to life."

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:39 | 1062478 Haywood Jablowme
Haywood Jablowme's picture


some close-up pics of the reactors....

I would hate to be at that airport right now....

Gotta love/hate the headlines on this one:

  • French minister: 'Let's not beat about the bush, they've essentially lost control'
  • Radioactive steam spews into atmosphere from reactor number three
  • Experts warn that crisis is 'approaching point of no return' as officials run out of options
  • Officials commandeer police water cannon to spray complex
  • Attempts to dump water on reactors by helicopter fail
  • Two more previously stable reactors begin to heat up
  • Rich scramble to book private jets out the country as fleeing passengers pack Tokyo airport
  • Workers battling nuclear meltdown evacuated for hours today after radiation levels increased

Interesting video follow-up coming out of RT today...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:37 | 1062964 e_goldstein
e_goldstein's picture

i remember when Chernobyl melted down and all the talk on the MSM was 

"that could never happen here... our reactors are better designed."

(only one level of safety redundancy, really?)

lucky for us, we only have 9 or so nuclear plants on the pacific coast :-/

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:33 | 1062505 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

We need to move some funding and security assets from Al Queda to nuclear power.  Will someone get the head of DHS on the TV to explain their policy on this.  I'm starting to panic.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:38 | 1062539 Tell me lies
Tell me lies's picture

Or gives them new techniques to implement an attack against our freedoms.

Michael, I have read many posts from you. Does this sound like a Neo uoo con headline or what?  Have heard it already.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:51 | 1063823 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Is that the freedom to go to work, to make monthly payments or to stop at red lights?

No. It's the freedom to do endless Muslims wars.

So many time in history slaves work was use to finance wars...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:05 | 1062328 redpill
redpill's picture

Is a pool still a pool if it has no water? Or is it now just a radioactive skate park?

But more broadly, even if the spent rods achieve criticality, it will probably mean high levels of localized radiation. Unless there are substantial explosions, it probably won't generate a Chernobyl-style plume that would travel vast distances.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:16 | 1062408 bingaling
bingaling's picture

The spent rods are stored over the reactor I believe.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:22 | 1062443 redpill
redpill's picture

6 of them are, there is one outside that is not, but because it's in the ground and not losing water, it's not as big of a deal.

The problematic one is in Reactor 4, where they had densely packed the pool with spent fuel rods because the reactor itself was not in operation.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:16 | 1062827 Paul Bogdanich
Paul Bogdanich's picture

"The problematic one is in Reactor 4, where they had densely packed the pool with spent fuel rods because the reactor itself was not in operation."


Not precisely.  # 4 was down for maintenance when the quake struck.  The speculation is that the rods from the core (not spent rods but live ones) were in the pool with the spent rods awaiting re-isertion as part of the maintenance cycle.  Then the quake happened, the tsunami wiped out the aux generators, the pool went dry and so now you have live fuel reacting with the spent rods and that is why they are worried about the mass reaching criticality.  Now it would not explode unless it hit some water but the amount of radiation released would be very large indeed.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:20 | 1062439 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

hey red!  wanna bet???

this is gonna get way worse b4 it gets better, and it is not gonna get better while any of us are still pretending to enjoy planetary existence here.

i have set the over/under for this event at Chernobyl X5, with March 31, 2011 as "settlement day in green stamps" and vegas is getting more action than on March Madness, so far.  in case of any disagreement regading the quantification vis-a-vis chernobyl, slewie will make the decision, which will be final AND binding on all playaZ.

after the shit i went thru here, yest, no one else is qualified..., but in the event i am too fuked up to e on the 31st, tyler can make the call @  4 PM eastern, and we'll just let the green-stamp-based chips fall wherever tf they fall, 'k?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:23 | 1062455 redpill
redpill's picture

Chernobyl was a nuclear inferno burning uncontrolled for days, I'm hopeful this situation does not get to that point, but I certainly don't discount the possibility.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:31 | 1062494 Haywood Jablowme
Haywood Jablowme's picture

I'll put 10 packs of IOSAT on the under.  Within the next 7 days I speculate major cluster-fuck FUBAR.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062331 taraxias
taraxias's picture

what happened to you man, did you find religion?


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:22 | 1062440 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

taraxias, I think it's called blowing with the wind. It's what light-weights do.

They still manage to pee on their feet, consistently.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:48 | 1062635 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Thanks for not posting a link to your blog.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:24 | 1062873 deeznutz
deeznutz's picture

I second that.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:04 | 1062730 trav7777
trav7777's picture

huh?  No, I respond to the facts as they become available.

I am not one of the many people here who actually WANT this to be an apocalypse so that they can feel self-righteous.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:23 | 1062881 Cleverbot
Cleverbot's picture

You would after awhile, if not immediately. Once your number starts dwindling.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 17:10 | 1063134 The Profit Prophet
The Profit Prophet's picture're back!  Still trying to defend yourself I see.  Is there anything you would like to say to the people you were calling hysterical idiots yesterday?....or do you have some more sweet smelling disinfo for us today? 

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062366 InconvenientCou...
InconvenientCounterParty's picture

They might need new units of measure for this if those spent rods melt together.

"Ch"== 1 x Chernobyl.

From what I can tell, we could get to 2 or 3 on that scale.

Please pray now if you think it will do some good.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:24 | 1062453 M.B. Drapier
M.B. Drapier's picture

I will. Is that a log scale?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:41 | 1062567 malikai
malikai's picture

This is exactly what I've been saying about the pools. From what I've read, unit 4 has about 5 years of spent fuel rods in it. Should they melt, whatever water may be left in the pool will serve as a moderator, causing criticality. Once it becomes critical, they will melt further, and the game is up, as it will probably be large enough to remain critical without moderation. From there, it's china syndrome as the blob melts through the relatively thin pool floor on its way to the water table, where it will promptly explode once in contact with water, giving us the feared "20 Megaton" thermal explosion and will probably double the total worldwide fallout since nuclear testing began in the 40s.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062369 Pal
Pal's picture

This the post I found just mins. ago "The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant says it has almost completed a new power line that could restore electricity to the complex and solve the crisis that has threatened a meltdown. The new line would revive electric-powered pumps, allowing a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds, keeping them cool."

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:14 | 1062395 redpill
redpill's picture

Yeah, that's the AP story, the problem is if there are still leaks in the pipes (which would not be surprising, especially in Reactor 2 where there was an explosion directly by the suppression pool and Reactor 3 where they had a big badaboom) it doesn't matter if you have the electric pumps going (also assuming the pumps themselves are not damaged).

They won't know if that "solves the crisis" until they actually get the power on and see if the stuff works. Also restoring power could increase the potential for fires. Cross your fingers.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:20 | 1062430 Raymond K Hassel
Raymond K Hassel's picture

Pumps back on line is great news - now where did all the piping land?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:38 | 1062487 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

To assume that the pumps, pipes, valves and electrical controllers are all still functioning properly in the three units that have suffered explosions is similar to wishing on a star. I guess it's possible and I hope they are able to start the cooling system back up. But for the news story to report it like it's a no brainer is nothing but hope and prayer spinning.

If it does save the day, it will mean TEPOC electric division will have saved TEPOC nuclear division.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:42 | 1062579 kinetik
kinetik's picture

I wouldn't be too concerned about valves, they're pretty tough but operator stations are not. From what I understand is that the control room for the blown out reactors are all distasters, in that they are experiencing "lost of view" on the HMI and that nothing actually works from a control standpoint.

If you can't see what's happening to your process you can't control that process, simple as that.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:53 | 1062670 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I was trying to cover all the bases. I agree that the valves are pretty hearty. But the controllers and electric motors on the values, vents, switches etc is another matter. And who knows how the piping has survived the explosions. Some of this is 30 to 40 year old stuff that has just been pushed way beyond design.

I was assuming the control rooms were "OK". If not all they might do is make things worse if they don't know what is or is not working when they push buttons.

What a nightmare.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 17:19 | 1063228 spanish inquisition
spanish inquisition's picture

I believe you are leaving behind 1lb of salt for every 4 gallons of steam. It could be collecting anywhere and I think you can't eliminate any possibility at this point.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:21 | 1062433 spartan117
spartan117's picture

trav, per your request from another thread where you were called out as a racist.

by trav7777
on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 13:30

I personally think this whole China gold thing is overstated and misleading.  Chinks are buying gold because it's a symbol of wealth and it is an asset, the same as indians do.

There just aren't that many assets out there with comparable attributes in this regard.  I don't think that the average chinaman understands "inflation" all that well nor the broader concepts of monetary policy or the yuan peg.  They just know that gold is worthful, they desire it, and with all the money flowing in China they are buying symbols of affluence, gold, cars, etc.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:23 | 1062454 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

I'm at a loss here.  Is this supposed to buttress the case for his racism?  Or absolve him.

Because I can think of a complete litany of shit to call Chinese and Indians that you'd have no doubt of recognizing as racist, i slept at holiday inn and watched blazing saddles last night.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:28 | 1062475 spartan117
spartan117's picture

Take it for what it's worth.  He's an ass, and adds little value to discussions on ZH.  He denies being a racist, and asked for proof.  So there it is.  And there are many more posts similar to that one.  All you have to do is search.  I calls em as I sees em.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:50 | 1062651 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

Good for you. +1

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:32 | 1062506 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Watching Blazing Saddles is what pushed your credibility over the top from my point of view. Nice move. :>)

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:02 | 1062714 trav7777
trav7777's picture

you had all this time and that's the best you could come up with?  One use of "chinks"?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:22 | 1062869 Cleverbot
Cleverbot's picture

How could you see it? You could not have found it if it was invisible.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:16 | 1063621 sushi
sushi's picture


Well, you did post about chinks in the primary containment on #4.


Don't let the bastards get you down.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:41 | 1062571 Tell me lies
Tell me lies's picture

Plus, did not they say a good portion of the rods in the pool were only 6 months old. This  meaning, they are still very "hot".

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:03 | 1062300 max2205
max2205's picture

CNBC just alerted power to be restored to that Fuckme power plant...end of story?   sure....

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062330 DonnieD
DonnieD's picture

CNBC PPT. Doing God's work.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:30 | 1062490 akak
akak's picture

CNBC PPT. Doing God's work.

You fail to mention which God that might be.

Baal, maybe, or perhaps Quetzalcoatl?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:47 | 1062624 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

Nice.  Tlalloc was the rain maker they burned kids for wasn't it?  More tears = more rains.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:07 | 1062746 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Quetzalcoatl was the nice guy of that particular pantheon.  He demanded that no human sacrifices be made to him.

That didn't stop their bloodthirsty priests, though.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:35 | 1062517 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture

did they:

a) fire up a coal plant?

b) use diesel generators?

c) bring in a ship and an extension cord?

d) use tesla "wireless electric delivery", long-suppressed by, uh, GE?

e) something else?

f) lie?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:34 | 1062604 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture


i hope the correct answer is e) something else, and that the "something else" was get reactor #6 from non-producing to producing electric.  turn the puppy "on". use the juice to run the complex, or what is left of it.

actually, this idea came to the minds of japanese nukuler engineers on the 11th, but their bosses were so busy getting screamed at by the pols, and the engineers and operators were too polite to interrupt.  now, they have answer the question which was directed them this morning:  "Doyou have any suggestions?"  the answer was only delayed by the obligatory bowing, at that point.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:11 | 1062368 Cdad
Cdad's picture

One of the most shocking things about the last three just how blatant it is that the Ministry of Truth [CNBC] has indeed been revealed as an arm of the new American Marxist/banker party.

And so as this stock market falls away...perhaps consideration on whether or not this network should be allowed to renew its license would be in order.

Short COMCAST, and buy the VXX.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:02 | 1062305 nonclaim
nonclaim's picture

Fight a meltdown with a melt-up seems the logic here.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:05 | 1062326 schoolsout
schoolsout's picture



Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:42 | 1062992 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

I say we nuke it.  It can't get much worse at this point, right?

Hey, if it was a viable solution for the GoM oil volcano, why not reactors spewing radioactivity?

I am Chumbawamba.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:04 | 1062306 oogs66
oogs66's picture

these rallies are now good for shorts....slowly killing the buy the dip crowd...and for all the people who were waiting for market to go down a bit to buy, they are now getting nervous, they are looking at their monthly and quarterly performance and are getting nervous and likely to be sellers on much more weakness rather than buyers.   could use another set of economic data tomorrow as bad as today's


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:06 | 1062734 equity_momo
equity_momo's picture

Precisely.  We need one more really ugly day in the market and then i think its time to cover shorts and then look to get long just for a trade. Id like to see some momos like Robot Trader advocate shorts and pick out sectors doing badly. Thats when i know the swing trade is on.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:02 | 1062307 Quintus
Quintus's picture

Right.  So they just connect up the power cable and presto!  Everything's fine again.  Are they suggesting that the pumps and associated pipework have not been in any way damaged by the explosions to date?  Seems a tad unlikely.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:07 | 1062337 trav7777
trav7777's picture

at this point, better hope that it hasn't been damaged.

Restoration of power will be helpful, but at this point, cooling SFPs is the primary concern.

If criticality returns to these rods, the heat and radiation levels will go apeshit.  Free neutron radiation is astoundingly WORSE than gamma rays even.  The additional heat would likely provoke a substantial fire among the rods, liberating fission byproducts

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:17 | 1062407 taraxias
taraxias's picture

Why would it be damaged? It's not like the site had an earthquake, a tsunami, a few explosions to make it look like a battle zone hit it or anything?


Quick get that power cord there from Walmart.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:21 | 1062437 DonnieD
DonnieD's picture

I use extension cords for Christmas lights. The only thing that will fix this mess is a time machine.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 17:20 | 1063241 hidingfromhelis
hidingfromhelis's picture

Visions of the Griswold house in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...what could possibly go wrong?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:16 | 1062411 Muir
Muir's picture

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:29 | 1062485 Overpowered By Funk
Overpowered By Funk's picture

The ice age is coming, the sun's zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:33 | 1062520 Cthonic
Cthonic's picture

+Regards, from another disciple of Brian.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:38 | 1062540 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Trying to get in front of the parade, Trav?  You'll have to run faster.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:58 | 1062690 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

Thanks for the fish everyone.


Ps-- 42

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:10 | 1062772 trav7777
trav7777's picture


I don't want any part of the parade of misanthropy around here.

People here daily salivate for some kind of TSHTF. 

In discussions with them it's clear they don't know the first thing about nuclear power plants, but it was clear in their minds and still is that this will render Japan and the US totally uninhabitable.  I can only conclude from this that they are expressing their wishful thinking.

I am simply responding to the facts as they become available.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:03 | 1062311 jus_lite_reading
jus_lite_reading's picture

Send in Obumma! He's like McGiaver only better! Toothpick, paper clip and a F$%^ing extension cord can fix the whole nuclear disaster!

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:16 | 1062398 InconvenientCou...
InconvenientCounterParty's picture

after you.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062312 etrader
etrader's picture

Those digiglobe images show its now behond a simple power cord :(

As CD says , the west don't seem to understand how "saving face" works in Japan

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:05 | 1062313 stateside
stateside's picture

Little water?  NRC stated no water left - Reuters blog has the NRC comments.

More comments from the NRC chair, says spent fuel pool at Reactor 4 has no water, radiation levels are "extremely high" by Stephanie Ditta at 3/16/2011 6:13:07 PM

2:13 PM

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:04 | 1062314 TomJoad
TomJoad's picture

Neutrons are like FED Chairmen, it's the slow ones you have to look out for.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:39 | 1062545 Ben Fleeced
Ben Fleeced's picture

Now I have the Pointer Sisters in my head

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:05 | 1062316 6 String
6 String's picture

just BTFD. That should take care of everything. I just know in my warped little heart that the russell 2000 can fix everything--including nuclear fallouts.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062319 misterc
misterc's picture

WONDER WEAPONS! ("silver bullet" in English)

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:05 | 1062325 jobs1234
jobs1234's picture

Why anyone would hold overnight at this point is beyond me

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:08 | 1062346 6 String
6 String's picture

Edward Jones, baby!

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:19 | 1062423 Muir
Muir's picture






Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:06 | 1062333 Putty
Putty's picture

The boric acid hoses should have been running from the start.  

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:19 | 1063643 sushi
sushi's picture


They were.

The Japanese have exhausted their boric acid reserve and are getting more from S Korea.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:09 | 1062334 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Now, now...don't be cynical.

They called and asked me to run an extension cord from my garage and how could I resist?

I'm not sure what 'cooling infastructure' is left to be powered, to be honest, based on the sat and helo views of the carnage that used to be nuclear reactors.

Are they going to plug in one of those NFL coolzone things that's basically a fan that sprays a mist of water and blow it into the all torn apart to shit stuff that's left?

If POMO doesn't work, they try with very inventive (although transparently ridiculous) headlines, I guess.

Tokyo Electric is doing an amazing job here. Really.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:41 | 1062575 PhattyBuoy
PhattyBuoy's picture

Coolzone - ha ! Tail gate party is ON ... no charcoal required.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:07 | 1062335 virgilcaine
virgilcaine's picture

The lack of any response is unreal.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:07 | 1062338 Notimpossible
Notimpossible's picture

Fed is on the sidelines here (meltdown or not) with dollar index, commodites, inflation, and politics at a tipping way they step in on non-domestic & silver going down with the titanic!

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:20 | 1062435 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

I don't see Gold going down much - Japan is about as close to the $ system as it is possible to get outside the states.

It has only internal control systems.

Its a manufacturing colony.

What happened to the British Empire when it lost India ?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:41 | 1062568 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Insightful.  Then there are the foreign policy implications.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:40 | 1062563 Pseudo Anonym
Pseudo Anonym's picture

Fed is on the sidelines here

good things come to those who wait

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:08 | 1062340 DeweyLeon
DeweyLeon's picture

"...questions will be asked about how the ponds wound up in this condition, when it should have been completely avoidable."

They can ask each other all the questions they want, but this ends nuclear as a power source outside what's already been built (if even that).  NOBODY will be willing now to see one built anywhere near them.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:09 | 1062357 PenchantForHoarding
PenchantForHoarding's picture

Guess it's long coal then...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:10 | 1062785 trav7777
trav7777's picture

way ahead of you...but I don't see the average person even knowing what's happened in Japan at this point.

No one seems to know nor care about it.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:20 | 1062434 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Maybe still in dictatorships with lots of population they can do without/don't care about.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:28 | 1062473 A Texan
A Texan's picture

What is needed is a complete change to newer technology, like pebble bed reactors, that CAN'T go critical in any way.  They have a temperature range inside of which they work (i.e. produce power); below it is too cool, and above the reaction subsides - but the best part, from the safety standpoint, is that the point at which the reaction subsides is far below the melting point of the graphite balls that contain the nuclear materials.


That, or thorium reactors (which can be made so that they cannot melt down) are another option.  Thorium, with minor precautions, can be used in a reactor without the risk of nuclear proliferation (i.e. we don't have to worry about terrorists stealing it). 

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:50 | 1062647 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

I've read that the thorium ones are impossible to contain... they're closer to the universal solvent than we've ever been and have eaten through all of the experimental containments that have been tried.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:13 | 1062810 trav7777
trav7777's picture

Pebble bed actually predates lightwater.  The nuclear industry was steered toward what we have by the need of navies for nuclear power systems tailored to their desires.  PBMRs don't throttle up or down quickly and powering ships requires that sort of modality.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:14 | 1062817 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

What is needed is a complete change to newer technology, like pebble bed reactors, that CAN'T go critical in any way.  

- - - - - - - - - - -

If they had graduated to using "The simplified boiling water reactor (SBWR)" they wouldn't be where they are:

General Electric (GE) also developed a different concept for a new boiling water reactor (BWR) at the same time as the ABWR, known as the simplified boiling water reactor (SBWR).

This smaller (600 megawatt electrical (MWe) per reactor) was notable for its incorporation—for the first time ever in a light water reactor—of "passive safety" design principles.

The concept of passive safety means that the reactor, rather than requiring the intervention of active systems, such as emergency injection pumps, to keep the reactor within safety margins, was instead designed to return to a safe state solely through operation of natural forces if a safety-related contingency developed.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:42 | 1062584 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

It's too late for that.  The USA has 105 plants and 47 or so states have them.  Are they all chock full of spent rods?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:22 | 1063663 sushi
sushi's picture


Mostly yup.

Mostly in Spent Fuel Pools (SFP) as in Japan.

Older assemblies moved to dry cask storage but still on-site.

No where else to move this shit.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062350 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

So why is the the first we have heard of powerlines being ran to the plant?  I mean wouldn't they have been giving us the info on the powerlines as they started days ago to keep the markets calm?  Something doesn't add up here.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:17 | 1062420 taraxias
taraxias's picture

Bernanke just thought of that and called them up.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:38 | 1062537 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

If a power line could fix the problem a generator could fix the problem and they have had generators on site for days. The only thing a power line hookup to the plant circuitry will do is start fires.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 17:00 | 1063078 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

So why is the the first we have heard of powerlines being ran to the plant?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

As if the four (4) sets of 3-phase hi-tension lines to/from the step-up (say, 2,000 V gen output to 345 kV transmission line voltage) substations on property (two that I can tell) aren't enough?

Examining the hi-res photos that have been issued the sharp-eyed observer can see the HV  transmission line towers, and from there identify the substations they run to

Those 'lines' work both ways; when they mention 'off-site power' in the technical literature that's what they mean, power is coming in on those lines vs 'going out' ...


Might be temporary patch around something either on-site of somewhere else to bypass damaged switchgear ... with the news media 'translating', one never knows.



Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:27 | 1063690 sushi
sushi's picture


They had salt water innundation.

So all switching gear caked with salt and requires a full fresh water flush and dry before it again becomes usable. But they had a few other priorites to deal with.

BTW the overhead imagery on unit #1 does shows the flat plane of the refueling deck so my prior interpretation was wrong.

The overheads should also disclose the SFP on #1 as it is open and uncovered but I cannot see it. Suspect there is a floating dust / debris on the water surface.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 20:24 | 1064184 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

They had salt water innundation.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Hey! That's been my unspoken projection for a couple days now ... that and any outdoor gear like those rows of pump-motors one can see on the better hi-res photos ... those must be the sea-water pumps between the sea-water inlets and the buildings.

Marked-up MS Paint photos supplied if needed upon request ...

Those guys/gals have their work cut out for them ... Godspeed in their efforts.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062353 playitcool
playitcool's picture

A neutron walks into a bar...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:22 | 1062451 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

The Electron Bar fly cloud has been there and gone, oops, here they come again.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:38 | 1062550 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

and the bartender says: "hey, you can't come in here with your rod exposed!"

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:06 | 1062737 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

LMFAO, that's a whole lot gooder than what I had.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:08 | 1062355 equity_momo
equity_momo's picture

BTFD chumps still think theyre onto a winner , every rally just sucks more retards into the slaughter house.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:11 | 1062791 Strider52
Strider52's picture

What does the Stock market and NE Japan have in common?

I wouldn't go near either of them.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062358 Aductor
Aductor's picture

At this point, it's pretty much beyond  the point of restoring-power-will-resolve-everything-including-the-Bernank's-upset-stomach. The cooling issue will resolve itself with time, but if they haven't stored the fuel rods with enough separation, of course it could  go critical if water levels recedes. I can't believe they are that ignorant though.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:09 | 1062359 majia
majia's picture

Washington's Blog, linked at zerohedge, has a clip from the Rachel Maddow show on these spent rods and their dangers. Maddow interviews a physicist from Princeton who says the rods are more dangerous because of their numbers and lack of containment than a core meltdown. If the rods merely heat up enough there exists the danger of release...


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:29 | 1062486 Stranded Observer
Stranded Observer's picture

Rachel Maddow has probably never seen a spent rod before.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:50 | 1062638 PhattyBuoy
PhattyBuoy's picture

+ lol


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:25 | 1062896 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:03 | 1062722 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:49 | 1062645 WestVillageIdiot
WestVillageIdiot's picture

What does Rachel Maddow know about a rod?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:16 | 1062825 trav7777
trav7777's picture

that is exactly what I have been saying.  I don't get as much pussy as Madcow, though, so take it FWIW

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062360 Motorhead
Motorhead's picture

If I recall, airline stocks were heavily shorted before 9-11.  I wonder what uranium stocks were like last week.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:11 | 1062361 silvertrain
silvertrain's picture

 what about SALT WATER they flooded this thing with?


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:18 | 1062425 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

The problem with salt water is that it has tons of dissolved "sponges" in it.  Salts, metals, etc.  These sponges make it easier for it to scoop loose zoomies up and then carry that shit aloft as it boils off.

real reactor water is a lot like distilled, they try to remove all of these abosorbers from it.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:09 | 1062362 reader2010
reader2010's picture

BOJ can't print eough JPY to cool it down?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:11 | 1062363 WTF2
WTF2's picture

The old extension cord trick...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062375 silvertrain
silvertrain's picture

 Like when your power gets cut off for not paying the bill and you hook to a neighbor?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:16 | 1062403 Misean
Misean's picture

Would you beleive...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:26 | 1062474 Ruffcut
Ruffcut's picture

"The old extension cord trick..."

And patched with duct tape.

Burning rods, water and electricity. Sounds like a good mix. Whew, I was worried there.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062365 Critical Path
Critical Path's picture

The wheels are coming off.... scratch that.  I think we're driving on the rotors now.


This sad reality has become the economy

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:10 | 1062372 Ivanovich
Ivanovich's picture

Has no one thought to call the Hall of Justice?  I'm sure the Superfriends would be willing to help.  Can that Wonder twin guy take the form of boric acid?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:28 | 1062909 victor82
victor82's picture

Silly boy. This is what happens when the Hall of Justice is bought by the Joker at a Foreclosure Sale.

"Why so serious?"

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:12 | 1062373 reload
reload's picture

pool 3 is the MOX, the really bad one.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:15 | 1062393 TomJoad
TomJoad's picture

Supposedly they are still running the first loadout of MOX in the reactor at #3, none in the storage pool. 

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:12 | 1062374 Fix It Again Timmy
Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Yes, i hope this is true, but it seems like bringing a new power line to a burning house, what good is that?  Surely they must be joking about this...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:11 | 1062376 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

A power cord?

We're fucked

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:23 | 1062442 Convolved Man
Convolved Man's picture

And when they go to plug it in, it will be discovered the cord is a three prong and the outlet is just a two prong.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:11 | 1062381 Capitalist10
Capitalist10's picture

Japanese spokesman denies that there is any wind in Japan.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:34 | 1062515 Mesquite
Mesquite's picture

Just hot air, (lots)..

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:13 | 1062383 Spigot
Spigot's picture

Reactor#3 is a plutonium breeder reactor. It takes about 2.3# of plutonium to produce a nuclear explosion if arranged correctly. If not it will *_JUST_* vaporize...

1 gram of plutonium, evenly distributed to every person on the planet, would kill everyone.

Yep, I bet their knickers are in a bunch at this point. With a half-life of 24,000 years this would certainly undermine Japanese real estate prices.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:17 | 1062414 Misean
Misean's picture

Matchbooks ain't great sources of knowledge and learning. Just sayin...

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:22 | 1062444 SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

>> Reactor#3 is a plutonium breeder reactor. It takes about 2.3# of plutonium to produce a nuclear explosion if arranged correctly. If not it will *_JUST_* vaporize...


Crap.  100% PURE Pu-239 has a criticality amount of 10kg.   If it goes critical you get a lethal blue flash and a possible heat pulse.  It will NOT vaporize.  

What Fukushima will give is one hell of a radioactive fire.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:32 | 1062510 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

Blue flash - the demon core effect.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:07 | 1062756 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

It's all in your head.


Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:20 | 1062856 Strider52
Strider52's picture

That reminds me of the bugs bunny cartoon with the martian about to blow up Earth, with a Uranium PU-36 explosive space modulator. Maybe that's what they need.

 It sounds like the whole thing is beyond fuked. My guess is it's *at least* another Chernobyl.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:30 | 1062929 victor82
victor82's picture

BTW, anyone want to bet that this reactor is where Japan was producing its hidden stockpile of weapons-grade Pu-239?

You did say breeder reactor, didn't you?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:14 | 1062388 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Anybody know what is the temperature and pressure required for a fission explosion ?

Just asking............

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:18 | 1062409 TomJoad
TomJoad's picture

Material is not refined enough, and supposedly cannot achieve supercriticality in it's current (or even melted into a big-ass puddle) configuration.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:17 | 1062413 redpill
redpill's picture

A fission explosion is not in the cards.  Luckily atomic explosions are not all that easy to make.

What could happen is a criticality event where the rods break apart and release large amounts of radiation into the surrounding area, and farther if fires start and carry particulate matter upwards into the sky.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:31 | 1062493 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

I am not trying to be alarmist but has the physics really been done on this ?

All those fuel rods closely together bouncing neutrons off one another does not give me comfort.

Has this been modelled ?

The sheer mass of decay particles if conditions worsen is mind boggling even if there is a lot of Uranium 238 rather then 235 in those rods.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:41 | 1062566 Joe Davola
Joe Davola's picture

U238 releases less energetic neutrons than U235.  The nuclear bomb design page on wikipedia says that in bomb design they use a secondary source of neutrons to help the U238 stages of the bomb reach criticallity.


Uranium's most common isotope, U-238, is fissionable but not fissile (meaning that it cannot sustain a chain reaction by itself but can be made to fission, specifically by neutrons from a fusion reaction).

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:46 | 1062620 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Yes I know that - but there is also plutonium in the mix here - again I repeat - has this particular mix of different potentially explosive heavy isotopes under these deteriorating conditions been accuretly modeled ?

Would appreciate a knowledgeable answer.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 16:19 | 1062855 trav7777
trav7777's picture

To get an atomic explosion all you need is to have a critical mass.

Little boy rammed one piece of U235 into another and it created a big boom.  They were so confident of its operation that they didn't bother to test the thing.

Things like neutron tampers and all the rest of that increase the duration of the criticality...I wouldn't worry about that type of incident here.  Worry about heat and a fire.

Return to criticality of these things would mean neutron radiation, extreme heat, and a fire.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:13 | 1062390 AG BCN
AG BCN's picture

Shep just called them the "Fukushima 50"

p.s. No need for comments about watching Fox. I know.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 15:15 | 1062391 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

This power cord idea will surely work. The day has been saved.

-Lehman Quant

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