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Japan Nuclear Meltdown Would have Worldwide Implications

Politics / Environmental Issues Mar 12, 2011 - 09:38 AM GMT

By: Chris_Ciovacco

Politics

The concerns continue to mount after Japan’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which may further heighten recent anxiety in the financial markets. An explosion near the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station has industry experts talking about the possibility of a meltdown. According to Bloomberg:


“If the fuel rods are melting and this continues, a reactor meltdown is possible,” Kakizaki said. A meltdown refers to a heat buildup in the core of such intensity it melts the floor of the reactor containment housing. “If they cannot get the nuclear reactor back under control during the day, this may end up being the biggest problem of all,” said Ken Courtis, former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in Asia. “A meltdown, which would cause massive immediate damage, would also set the nuclear industry back decades. This would have vast implications for the global energy equation and perforce the world economy.”

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a press conference that the blast didn’t damage the reactor container, only the structure outside it, and that there was no major radiation leakage with the explosion. The nuclear reactors are about 150 miles north of Tokyo. New reports in Japan have indicated the radioactivity at the site was rising to 20 times normal levels.

“If the water level remains at this level, the reactor core might be damaged, but we are now pouring water into the reactor to prevent it from happening,” Dow Jones Newswires quoted a Tepco spokesman as saying.

According to Wikipedia, a nuclear meltdown:

  • Occurs when a severe failure of a nuclear power plant system prevents proper cooling of the reactor core, to the extent that the nuclear fuel assemblies overheat and melt. A meltdown is considered very serious because of the potential that radioactive materials could be released into the environment. A core meltdown will also render the reactor unusable until and unless it is repaired.
  • Within the former Soviet Union several nuclear meltdowns of differing severity have occurred. In the most serious example, the Chernobyl disaster, design flaws and operator negligence led to a power excursion that subsequently caused a meltdown.
  • A core damage accident is caused by the loss of sufficient cooling for the nuclear fuel within the reactor core. The reason may be one of several factors, including a loss of pressure control accident, a loss of coolant accident (LOCA), an uncontrolled power excursion, or in some types, a fire within the reactor core.

Hopefully over the coming days, the people of Japan can get some good news in the form of the odds being reduced relative to the possibility of a meltdown. From an investment perspective, it may contribute to an already fragile state of the markets. As we head into Monday’s open, we will continue to monitor the situation as well as the relative performance of defensive assets.

By Chris Ciovacco
Ciovacco Capital Management

    Copyright (C) 2011 Ciovacco Capital Management, LLC All Rights Reserved.

    Chris Ciovacco is the Chief Investment Officer for Ciovacco Capital Management, LLC. More on the web at www.ciovaccocapital.com

    Ciovacco Capital Management, LLC is an independent money management firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. As a registered investment advisor, CCM helps individual investors, large & small; achieve improved investment results via independent research and globally diversified investment portfolios. Since we are a fee-based firm, our only objective is to help you protect and grow your assets. Our long-term, theme-oriented, buy-and-hold approach allows for portfolio rebalancing from time to time to adjust to new opportunities or changing market conditions. When looking at money managers in Atlanta, take a hard look at CCM.

    All material presented herein is believed to be reliable but we cannot attest to its accuracy. Investment recommendations may change and readers are urged to check with their investment counselors and tax advisors before making any investment decisions. Opinions expressed in these reports may change without prior notice. This memorandum is based on information available to the public. No representation is made that it is accurate or complete. This memorandum is not an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell the securities mentioned. The investments discussed or recommended in this report may be unsuitable for investors depending on their specific investment objectives and financial position. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance. The price or value of the investments to which this report relates, either directly or indirectly, may fall or rise against the interest of investors. All prices and yields contained in this report are subject to change without notice. This information is based on hypothetical assumptions and is intended for illustrative purposes only. THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, AS TO ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, OR RESULTS OBTAINED FROM ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE. PAST PERFORMANCE DOES NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS.

    Chris Ciovacco Archive

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