Update 4: A series of earthquakes has been occurring over the past several hours in some unusual places, including Russia, Idaho and Ontario Canada. As you can see, California pops up on the map quite often with many common 1.1 magnitude quakes, but given the recent activity in the "ring of fire" starting in New Zealand, up into Japan, could the West Coast be next? Per update 1 today, let's hope not.
Update 3: Japanese Science Ministry now saying "levels of radiation are too low to present health problems" in some areas- which seems contradictory to the latest US evacuation orders of 50 miles. Below in the link section is a link for "Radiation Explanation."We don't think anyone wants to take the chance that even "low levels of radiation" are safe.
Update 2: US embassy alerting all US citizens to evacuate all areas within 50 miles of Fukushima now that at least a partial meltdown is confirmed. This is especially interesting since the Japanese gov't has kept their 12 mile mandatory evacuation in place and has not changed that order; no doubt, upping the mandatory evacuation will create anger and discredit the "official" information further.
Update 1: It's official. The US can't help Japan monetarily. According to CNN, former US comptroller David Walker said "the U.S. has little or no budget to deal with unexpected catastrophic events." In other words, let's hope there are no major disasters in the US in the next 50 years or else we'll be asking Martians for help.
Yesterday, a rumor began to circulate around trading desks that said the Japanese stock market would be closed for the remainder of the week, no doubt due to the high levels of volatility (and radiation) and the 17% stock market plunge in the two days that followed this ongoing catastrophe. Soon after that rumor began, an official report was released to the public stating the markets would remain open. Piecing the puzzle together, one could get a glimpse of one possible scenario that went like this:
Shortly after the closing bell in Japan on Tuesday, an emergency meeting was held to discuss what to do with falling stock prices since the two days worth of $200 Billion in injections from the Bank of Japan failed to stop the decline in the NIKKEI. After several hours of discussions, officials decided it was best to close the market for the week and allow things to cool down (no pun intended). This action has been implemented many times around the world during times of crisis and has proven to work effectively. However, that decision was later canceled because it was thought a full closure for the market might make people more nervous and bring about further panic (remember, their goal is to keep the illusion of continuity no matter what). However, doing that might be counterproductive given the near certainty the markets would continue to decline. Therefore, once again tearing a page directly from Dr. Deficit's playbook, the BoJ decides to pump another $500 Billion (Billion with a capital "B" for a total of $700 Billion) into the markets and Presto! Et viola! Like magic, the NIKKEI manages to rally 5% in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating situation. As per Reuters, "Japan's nuclear crisis appeared to be spinning out of control on Wednesday."
Which is all the more interesting since the World Health Organization issued this statement: "Governments and members of the public are encouraged to take steps to halt these rumours, which are harmful to public morale."
We can only suppose by "rumours" they mean anything, like the aforementioned article from Reuters that goes contrary to official statements from the Chief Cabinet Secretary that say "People would not be in immediate danger if they went outside with these levels. I want people to understand this."
On one side, the official report from Japan states "this is no Chernobyl" and on the other, the EU's Energy Commissioner is now saying "the situation at Japanese reactor is effectively out of control."
As you can see, during major catastrophes like this, it is difficult to determine who can be believed. However, it may be prudent to keep in mind the cliche about throwing out questionable food- "When in doubt, throw it out." Adjusted for this event, "When in doubt, get out." As can been seen from video of Tokyo, many people are doing just that and erring on the side of caution.
Further helping to show which side of the coin is better -- because it is a fact that radiation levels are on the rise, what else can the Japanese gov't do but raise the "legal radiation dose" for workers. Feeling radiation sickness? There all better now. The maximum "safe" limit has just been raised. You should feel better immediately. As another excellent site says, "When All Else Fails, Change The Rules."
Another day, another tsunami of news items. Let's begin with some excellent links.
Latest images of Fukushima from the side of the plant not often seen.
Map showing radiation levels across Japan.
Updates on Fukushima #2 reactor.
An excellent Q&A from Reuters on risks at each reactor can be found here.
An eye on radiation levels in the US.
Live stream from Japan news.
More links being added.
Check back often for updates.