Chinese panic-buy salt over Japan nuclear threat

Discussion in 'China' started by amoy, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    Beijing supermarkets run out of salt after false rumours circulate that iodised salt can help ward off radiation poisoning
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    Associated Press
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 March 2011 13.13 GMT

    Customers flock to buy salt at a supermarket in Lanzhou, Gansu province. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters
    Worried shoppers stripped stores of salt in Beijing, Shanghai and other parts of China on Thursday in the false belief it can guard against radiation exposure, even though any fallout from a crippled Japanese nuclear power plant is unlikely to reach the country.

    The panic-shopping was triggered by rumours that iodised salt could help ward off radiation poisoning – part of the swirl of misinformation crisscrossing the region amid Japan's nuclear emergency.

    Text messages on mobile phones have circulated about nuclear plumes spreading throughout Asia. Rumours also spread that salt was adequate protection for radiation sickness.

    Supermarkets in the capital of Beijing and many cities across the country have run out of salt as a wave of panic-buying spread across provinces from eastern Zhejiang to southern Guangdong to western Sichuan. Prices of salt jumped five or 10-fold in southern Guangdong, sina.com reported.

    In Shanghai, Dong Linhua, a 57-year-old factory worker, said he wanted to buy just 1kg (2.2lbs) of salt but could not even find that. "Salt is not available in any of the shops," he said. Though Dong said he didn't believe the rumours, he wanted to have the salt for his family.

    On Thursday, the country's largest salt maker, China National Salt Industry Corp, issued a statement saying ample reserves were in place and that "panic-buying and hoarding is unnecessary", according to the official Xinhua news agency.

    The ministry of health posted information on its website telling people that taking regular table salt would not prevent radiation. An adult would need to ingest 3kg of salt at one time to help prevent radiation, the ministry said.

    Potassium iodide pills are used to help mitigate the effects of radiation poisoning, but regular table salt does not contain enough iodine to block the poisoning, according to health experts.

    A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said: "I do not see any necessity to panic."

    The national development and reform commission issued an urgent notice ordering local authorities to take "immediate action to monitor the market prices and resolutely crack down on illegal acts including spreading rumours to deceive the public".

    The Guangdong and Hainan provincial governments warned of fines of up to 2 million yuan (£188,000) for companies that sharply increased salt prices.

    The head of the World Health Organisation in China called on governments and individuals to "take steps to halt these rumours, which are harmful to public morale". Michael O'Leary said the organisation "would like to assure governments and members of the public that there is no evidence at this time of any significant international spread from the nuclear site".

    The US embassy said there was no evidence that events in Japan "will have any health impact on individuals residing in China".

    Rumours also impacted other countries. In Vietnam this week, schools kept students indoors, while some employers allowed staff to leave early to avoid rainfall after word spread that the deluge would burn skin and cause cancer.

    A similar scare in the Philippine capital, Manila, led a university to cancel classes on Monday.
     
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Are there privately owned salt companies in PRC?
     
  4. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    China suspends all new nuclear plants, orders safety review; U.S. plans unchanged


    Gallery: Global nuclear debate heats up: Governments around the globe question the use of nuclear power as Japan’s attempts to avert a meltdown at one of its plants erode confidence in nuclear energy.

    By Keith B. Richburg, Wednesday, March 16, 11:12 PM

    BEIJING — In a dramatic reversal, China’s State Council, or cabinet, announced Wednesday that it was suspending approval for all new nuclear power plants until the government could issue revised safety rules, in light of the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan.


    The State Council, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, also announced that the government would conduct safety checks at the country’s existing nuclear facilities and those under construction, according to a brief statement issued after the meeting and reported by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

    “We will temporarily suspend approval of nuclear power projects, including those in the preliminary stages of development,” the statement said.

    China’s decision came a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the seven nuclear power plants built before 1980 in her country would be shut down, at least for now, while safety checks are conducted. The German government had already suspended plans to extend the life of its aging plants.

    Switzerland announced Monday that it would freeze plans to build or replace nuclear power plants, and Austria called for new stress tests on such facilities across Europe.

    Still more countries, including Italy, where a Franco-Italian partnership is planning to start building a nuclear plant in 2013, have called for calm, with authorities saying the crisis should not derail the nuclear power industry’s recent renaissance as the clean-energy option of the future.

    White House officials continue to defend the use of nuclear power in the United States, which President Obama has embraced throughout his administration. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional committee Wednesday that Obama has not altered plans to build new nuclear plants in the country, part of his campaign to have the nation obtain 80 percent of its energy from “clean” sources by 2035.

    China, with 13 nuclear reactors in operation, at least 26 under construction and more in the planning stage, has by far the world’s most ambitious nuclear power program.

    But that program has attracted little or no public debate or scrutiny in this authoritarian country, where decisions are handed down by the ruling elite and most traditional news media are tightly controlled.

    Last week, when the crisis in Japan began, Zhang Lijun, China’s vice minister for environmental protection, said there would be no change in the country’s nuclear plans. “Some lessons we learn from Japan will be considered,” he said. “But China will not change its determination and plan for developing nuclear power.”

    But the disaster at Fukushima has riveted the Chinese public, prompting a debate for the first time over the country’s growing reliance on nuclear power for its energy needs and causing panic on China’s southeastern coast, closest to Japan across the East China Sea.

    In Shanghai, residents were stocking up on iodine pills and face masks, fearing that the radioactive steam cloud above the Fukushima plant might drift across the sea toward China.

    At Shanghai’s Lei Yun Shang pharmacy, a worker said the store sold out its entire stock of 300 boxes of iodine Tuesday — more than is sold in a typical month — and 600 more boxes Wednesday. The worker said the pharmacy also sold about 1,000 face masks, its entire supply.

    Chinese authorities began radiation checks at airports and seaports of people, luggage and goods arriving from Japan. In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, environmental officials began taking air samples and conducting round-the-clock monitoring for radiation.

    So far, no abnormal levels of radiation have been reported.

    A group of Chinese nuclear scientists and other experts called on the government Wednesday to quickly pass the country’s first atomic energy law to regulate more clearly the growing nuclear industry here, including safety supervision at nuclear power stations.

    Also Wednesday, the Global Times newspaper, whose editorials often reflect the thinking of its owner, the ruling Communist Party, called for more public debate over China’s nuclear expansion.

    “China has seen little debate over nuclear power safety as compared with other countries,” the paper’s lead editorial said. “It is questionable whether China will stick to a proper pace of nuclear power development, and maintain strictest safety standards in selecting its construction sites.”

    It added, “It always takes more time when the public joins in debates and supervision. However, such costs are certainly worthwhile when we consider the importance of nuclear power.”
     
  5. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    as far as I know no PRIVATE salt companies legally in China. Salt is considered "strategic" being vital to livelihood of people and government revenue (like cigarettes and alcohol)

    in ancient dynasties revolts against government monopoly over salt sales and bans on "trafficking" happened from time to time
     
  6. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    ^^ Thanks for the response. I was thinking that private salt companies could have sparked off rumours to make some quick profits.
     
  7. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    I have to add NO private salt PRODUCER, but of course sales of salt through lots of private outlets (supermarkets alike)
     
  8. BackToEast

    BackToEast Regular Member

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    Yes,that's true.
    They first spread rumors then bought lots stocks of salt companys.
     
  9. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Holy Hell
    Later we will have news of idiots consuming iodine to protect themselves from radiation poisoning.
     
  10. nimo_cn

    nimo_cn Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks to the internet, the rumor spreads at a speed beyond people's expectation. People in almost every Chinese city rushed into the supermarkets to buy salt, many of them had purchased enough salt for one year consumpation.

    The funny thing is now they are trying to return the purchased salt and get the refund but are turned down by the vendor.
     

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