During the massive salt rush that struck China after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a Chinese man from Wuhan city spends 27,000 CNY (around 4,123 USD) to purchase 13,000 catties (around 8 tons) of salt.

Now after the panic across China has subsided, this man wants a refund. As expected, no stores were willing to offer refunds.

via CQIT

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This week shoppers in China cleared salt from supermarkets shelves amid fears of a potential radiation crisis from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Although Government officials tried to calm fears by emphasizing that radiation levels in 41 cities across China remain normal, many Chinese have gone into full panic mode. Staff from multiple branches of the French supermarket chain Carrefour reported that their supplies of salt have been sold out since Thursday morning in Beijing.

Triggered by the belief that salt could prevent radiation-related illnesses and to secure uncontaminated salt sources, shoppers are hoarding as much salt as they can. One customer in the eastern city of Ningbo told the nation’s CCTV that she had purchased a five-year supply to placate her family’s fears of radiation. Another idiot named Michael Zeng, a 21-year-old college student in Beijing, said “it’s always safe to do what the majority are doing.”

Fears of a salt shortage also spread to Hong Kong, where many supermarkets ran out of salt as nervous shoppers stocked up on supplies. In fact, as I checked yesterday afternoon, even soy sauce, other basic cooking condiments and rice have been entirely cleared out from supermarket shelves.

Anyone who has bothered to check Wikipedia would know iodine in iodized salt is ineffective for preventing radiation effects, according to the World Health Organization. It would take 80 tablespoons of salt to make up one prophylactic, or preventative, iodide tablet. Further, only a fraction of China’s salt for consumption comes from the sea, said Song Zhangjing, a spokesman for industry organization the China Salt Association. “In China, most salt are from salt mines.”

In brief, there is no reason to hoard salt at all and those who do are complete fools.
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This comes as no surprise. Straight after the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, China has suspended approval for new nuclear power stations. It will also carry out checks at existing reactors and those under construction. China is currently building 27 new reactors – about 40% of the total number being built around the world.

The decision to temporarily halt approval for nuclear plants came at a meeting of China’s State Council, or Cabinet, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. “We will temporarily suspend approval for nuclear power projects, including those that have already begun preliminary work, before nuclear safety regulations are approved,” read a statement from the State Council.

China currently gets only about 2% of its electricity from nuclear power from 13 reactors, but it has launched an ambitious project to drastically increase those figures. It is currently building more reactors than any other country in the world. According to the World Nuclear Association, China wants to build a total of 110 nuclear reactors over the next few years.

Although China’s nuclear power plans seem very ambitious, they are not entirely unreasonable as the country is still heavily dependent on coal for power. There are many forms of greener energy but to meet the demands of such a large population, nuclear power seems to be unavoidable.

The problem is that many of the new nuclear plants are near highly populated areas and China doesn’t have the best safety record in respect to nuclear power. International experts complained in 2009 that China was short on nuclear inspectors, a problem the government pledged to remedy by quintupling the number of staff at its safety agency by the end of that year. Also in 2009, the government-appointed head of China National Nuclear Corp., which overseas China’s nuclear program, was detained because of allegations of bid-rigging in nuclear power construction contracts. That scandal raised fears that contractors were being allowed to cut corners and evade safety standards.

I would add that this suspension will most likely only be temporary.

via BBC News and NY Times

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