Japan plants, Irish banks and the rating bonanza

New day, new problems:

Let us start with a score of bad news from Japan's hidden nuclear crisis:

Radiation spreading

The IAEA has just announced that it has found excessive radioactivity in a village 40 km from Fukushima. From Reuters: "Radiation measured at a village 40 km from Japan's crippled nuclear plant exceeded a criterion for evacuation, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday, the latest sign of widening consequences from the crisis. Criticized for weak leadership during Japan's worst crisis since World War Two, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said he is considering enlarging the evacuation area to force 130,000 people to move, in addition to 70,000 already displaced."

New nuclear power plant at risk?

The 6 problem reactors which have gotten all of the press are located within the Fukushima Daiichi complex.
However, the same nuclear power plant operator that runs the Daiichi complex - Tepco - runs a separate nuclear complex 7 miles away, called Fukushima Daini. There are 4 reactors located at the Daini complex.
Today, Tepco announced that smoke was seen rising from Daini reactor number 1:
Smoke was spotted at another nuclear plant in northeastern Japan on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The incident was subsequently said to be under control.

Ireland March Madness

Irish Stress Tests May Leave Government in Control of Banks
The Irish government may be forced to take controlling stakes in Bank of Ireland Plc and Irish Life & Permanent Plc, the last of the country’s biggest lenders to escape state control, following tomorrow’s stress tests.“They’ve clearly got most to lose,” said Oliver Gilvarry, head of research at Dublin-based Dolmen Securities, who has “sell” rating on both banks. “It’s difficult to see how either will end up less than 50 percent owned by taxpayers.” The Irish Central Bank will at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow publish its third round of stress tests. The results will determine if the two can avoid joining four of the country’s biggest banks in majority state ownership after they all logged record losses as the country’s decade-long real estate bubble burst.
Ireland may require banks to raise an additional 27.5 billion euros ($39 billion) of capital, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The government has pledged to provide that money if banks fail to raise it themselves from a 35 billion-euro fund set up under the country’s international bailout in November. Shares of the two lenders have declined by more than 50 percent since that rescue.

Also, Irish Bank Suspends Shares in Nationalization Fears.

Rating Bonanza

Yesterday S&P cut Portugal’s sovereign debt rating for the second time this week to BBB- from BBB and Greece’s rating from BB+ to BB-, with Portugal left on negative outlook and Greece left on watch negative.