Japan: Panic Buying, Evacuations In Tokyo, Power Supply Shortages To Continue For Months

Panic Buying Adds To Shortages After Japan Quake (NPR):

Canned goods, batteries, bread and bottled water have vanished from store shelves and long lines of cars circle gas stations, as Japan grapples with a new risk set off by last week’s earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis: panic-buying.

Far outside the disaster zone, stores are running out of necessities, raising government fears that hoarding may hurt the delivery of emergency food aid to those who really need it.

“The situation is hysterical,” said Tomonao Matsuo, spokesman for instant noodle maker Nissin Foods, which donated a million items including its “Cup Noodles” for disaster relief. “People feel safer just by buying Cup Noodles.”

Japan power gap could sap recovery (Reuters):

“We think power supply shortages and rations are likely to continue in TEPCO’s supply area for months rather than weeks,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients.

Radiation fears spark panic buying, evacuations in Tokyo (Reuters):

TOKYO (Reuters) – Panic swept Tokyo on Tuesday after a rise in radioactive levels around an earthquake-hit nuclear power plant north of the city, causing some to leave the capital or stock up on food and supplies.

Embassies advised staff to leave affected areas, tourists cut short vacations and some multinational companies told staff to move from Tokyo out after low levels of radiation were detected in one of the world’s biggest and most densely populated cities.

In one sign of the panic, Don Quixote, a multistory, 24-hour general store in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, was sold out of radios, flashlights, candles, fuel cans and sleeping bags on Tuesday as a Reuters reported visited the shop.

Read moreJapan: Panic Buying, Evacuations In Tokyo, Power Supply Shortages To Continue For Months

Japan PM Naoto Kan to Tokyo Electric Power Company: ‘What the hell’s going on?’ (Kyodo – Reuters)

Japan PM to nuclear power firm: “What the hell’s going on?” -Kyodo (Reuters):

(Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister was furious with the power firm at the centre of the nuclear crisis for taking so long to inform his office about a blast at a stricken reactor plant, demanding “What the hell is going on?”.

Kyodo news agency reported that Naoto Kan also ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co on Tuesday not to pull employees out of the Fukushima plant north of Tokyo, which was badly damaged by last week’s earthquake and has been leaking radiation.

“The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the the premier’s office for about an hour,” a Kyodo reporter quoted Kan telling power company executives.

Japan Aftershock Map – 405 Aftershocks So Far – Aftershocks Will Likely Include At Least One Measuring 8 And 10 Of Magnitude 7, Says JPL Geophysicist Andrea Donnellan

For Japan, it’s nowhere near over, at least if the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Laboratory (creator of such brainiac things as the Mars rovers) is correct.

While Japan has experienced numerous magnitude 5 and 6 aftershocks (405 in total to be precise), the big ones are still to come: “Japan’s largest quake on record, which hurled a 7-meter (23-foot) wave landward after one plate slid beneath another off the coast of Sendai, had an 8.9 magnitude.

The aftershocks will likely include at least one measuring 8 and 10 of magnitude 7, JPL geophysicist Andrea Donnellan said.

All are many times larger than the 6.3-level New Zealand quake in February that leveled the Christchurch business district and killed 160.”

Should we get more 8+ earthquakes, the likelihood of further tsunamis unfortunately jumps exponentially. And while scientists have long been expecting “the Big One” to hit Los Angeles so far without success, unfortunately carrying over that logic to Japan is more than naive.

(Click on image to go to the USGS aftershock map.)

More from BusinessWeek on predicting earthquakes:

Pressure levels changed on the undersea plates extending 500 kilometers to the east and west of the epicenter, likely provoking aftershocks “for a long time,” said Eric Fielding, a principal scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Pasadena, California, research group is using data from Japan to help scientists forecast follow-on shifts in crustal plates.

Read moreJapan Aftershock Map – 405 Aftershocks So Far – Aftershocks Will Likely Include At Least One Measuring 8 And 10 Of Magnitude 7, Says JPL Geophysicist Andrea Donnellan

Japan: Industry Grinds To A Halt After Earthquake And Tsunami

Insurance costs for damage caused across Japan likely to be in region of £9bn adding further blow to indebted economy

A firefighter looks at burned-out vehicles at Hitachi port, north-eastern Japan, the day after the giant quake and tsunami struck. Photograph: AP

Industry in the world’s third-largest economy all but ground to a halt following the earthquake, as manufacturers ranging from Toyota to Nissan, Sony, Fuji and brewers Kirin and Sapporo shut down their operations in Japan to assess damage and allow staff to check on their families.

The quake is a shattering blow to Japan’s already heavily indebted economy, which recently endured a downgrade in its credit rating. Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda raised the prospect of an emergency budget to cope with reconstruction costs, but suggested that this would be hard to compile before the end of March.

Read moreJapan: Industry Grinds To A Halt After Earthquake And Tsunami

Japan Now Assumes ‘Possibility Of A Meltdown’ – Official Says 2nd Blast Possible – French Urged To Leave Tokyo – Fukushima Fallout: Next Few Days Critical – 140000 Evacuated From Radioactive Danger Zone – Nuclear Crisis Worsens As Country Braces For 2nd Huge Earthquake

Officials in protective gear at the the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Japan now assumes ‘possibility of a meltdown’ at troubled reactors (Christian Science Monitor)

At a Sunday morning press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said experts were “assuming the possibility of a meltdown” at the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima I plant, about 150 miles north of Tokyo, as well as at its No. 1 reactor.

Workers scramble to cool reactors; official says 2nd blast possible (CNN):

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said an explosion could take place in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan.

“There is a possibility that the third reactor may have hydrogen gas that is accumulating in the reactor (that) may potentially cause an explosion,” he said.

Amid nuke crisis, French urged to leave Tokyo (AP):

The French Embassy urged its citizens Sunday to leave the area around Tokyo — 170 miles (270 kilometers) from Fukushima Dai-ichi — in case the crisis deepened and a “radioactive plume” headed for the area around the capital. The statement acknowledged that the possibility was looking unlikely.

140000 evacuated from Japan’s radioactive danger zone (The Australian)

Fukushima Fallout: Next Few Days Critical (Sky News):

They say advanced Japanese engineering at the 40-year-old facility will avoid a Chernobyl-style disaster, but any radiation leak could have disastrous long-term consequences.

During Friday’s megaquake most of Japan’s nuclear power reactors did shut down as planned, but at Fukushima the system failed – leaving its reactors at risk.

A blast at the plant’s number one reactor destroyed part of the building but did not prompt a major radiation leak.

Experts have warned there could be a second explosion at the plant’s number three reactor.

Japan nuclear crisis worsens as country braces for second huge earthquake (Guardian):

The threat of further seismic shifts and tsunami is far from over. As rescue teams from more than 70 countries and tens of thousands of Japanese troops descended on the disaster zone, meteorological agency officials warned there was a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake striking the region in the next three days. “There will be many aftershocks in multiple locations. We have to brace ourselves for aftershocks of magnitude 5 or even magnitude 6,” an agency official said.

Here is an expert that has NO inside knowledge, but look what headline Reuters has created:

Partial nuclear meltdown “no disaster,”: expert (Reuters):

“I think nobody can say at this time whether there is a small melting of any fuel elements or something like that. You have to inspect it afterwards,” he told Reuters by phone.

But a partial meltdown “is not a disaster” and a complete meltdown is not likely, he said, suggesting he believed Japanese authorities were succeeding in cooling down the reactors even though the systems for doing this failed after the quake hit.

“I only see they are trying to cool the reactor, that is the main task, and they are trying to get cooling water from the sea,” Engel said, stressing he did not have first-hand information about events at the Fukushima facility.

“I think (He does not know!) they will be able to manage it … When the (reactor) containment is intact only a small amount of radioactivity can go out, like in Three Mile Island,” he said referring to the 1979 nuclear accident in the United States.

Japan: Earthquake Moved Coast 8 Feet, Shifted Earth’s Axis

(CNN) — The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

“At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

Read moreJapan: Earthquake Moved Coast 8 Feet, Shifted Earth’s Axis

Japan Earthquake: Tens Of Thousands Missing As Full Devastation Emerges

Tens of thousands were unaccounted for and whole towns wiped off the map as the full horror of Japan’s “super-earthquake” began to emerge on Saturday.

A soldier carries an elderly woman to an evacuation shelter in Kesennuma Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Fears were compounded by a massive explosion on Saturday morning at a nuclear reactor, 160 miles north-east of Tokyo. Seawater was being pumped into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an attempt to cool the radioactive core, while 90,000 people were evacuated from within a 12-mile radius.

Local authorities reported that almost 10,000 people – out of a population of 17,000 – were missing from the fishing port of Minamisanriku, which was engulfed by huge waves that swept inland for six miles. The earthquake was so powerful that Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the Earth’s axis shifted 9.8in [25cm]. The US Geological Survey said the main island of Japan had moved 7.8ft [2.4m].

Read moreJapan Earthquake: Tens Of Thousands Missing As Full Devastation Emerges