Tokyo Electric Power (OTCPK:TKECF) remains in the eye of a nuclear crisis. The government has already admitted that partial melting of radioactive fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility's No. 1 reactor and No. 3 reactor were the cause of a build-up of hydrogen that fueled powerful explosions that literally pulverized the concrete slabs forming the upper portion of the buildings that house the reactors.
On Monday afternoon, NHK was reporting that the No. 2 reactor was reaching a similar stage as the reactor's cooling apparatus failed and Tokyo Electric Power (also known as TEPCO) was forced to inject sea water to prevent a full melt-down, thereby creating the same conditions that caused the first two explosions. What the Japanese government and TEPCO do not mention is that TEPCO's Fukushima I unit 3 became the third Japanese nuclear reactor to load mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from recycled excess weapons grade pluttonium.
Critics of plutonium MOX fuel say its use increases the risk of nuclear accident due to the neutronic effects of plutonium on the reactor. In the event of an accident - in particular the loss of coolant - the reactor core is more difficult to control due to both neutronics and the higher risk of fuel cladding failure. In addition, plutonium MOX emits higher gamma radiation and much higher neutron radiation than uranium fuel.
On Monday, the explosion of the Fukushima I unit 3 reactor helped push the Nikkei 225 down 633.94 points or 6.18% at the close of trading in Tokyo. However, this quote includes many stocks that went limit-down during the day and closed offer-only, including TEPCO and East Japan Railway (OTCPK:EJPRY).
The loss of power output from the Fukushima nuclear power plants leaves TEPCO with some 31MW of power output, or some 10MW short of consumption. As a result, TEPCO announced a series of rolling 3~6 hour black outs for the 45 million living in Tokyo and the eight other prefectures in its coverage areaa, which were initially planned to begin at 6:30 a.m. Monday Tokyo time.
Because companies decided to extend plant shutdowns and the major railway lines announced greatly reduced and canceled train runs, TEPCO delayed implementation of the rolling black-outs to 5:00 p.m. Monday Tokyo time. These black-outs will affect Tokyo's electric trains, ATMs, water filtration plants, city gas supply, etc. and will cause stores and restaurants to temporarily close, thereby increasing the negative impact of the monster quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis on Japan's economy.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.