Japan plans to dump more than a million tons of contaminated water into the ocean, used mainly to cool the reactors at the Fukushima plant. The Japanese authorities affirm that this discharge does not pose any risk to health. But this has not stopped neighboring countries from expressing their concern. In China, some consumers have started buying salt.
With our Beijing correspondent, Stéphane Lagarde, and Louise May from the RFI Beijing office
It is not the same urgency as in Korea, but some people have decided to take the initiative even before the water from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is discharged into the sea. For a few days now, this cashier at a small supermarket near Ritan Park in Beijing has seen how salt buyers crowded.
“The shelves were full of salt this morning,” he says. “There is nothing left, but they will replenish us in a few days. It’s lake salt and it runs out very quickly. It’s all gone because of what’s happening in Japan. Personally, I have bought 20 packages”, he affirms.
“It’s for my own consumption, and I’m afraid that prices will go up,” said a client this Wednesday morning, who arrived at the checkout with 37 packets of salt. But so far, these salt hoarders are rare in China. This is nothing like the “salt panic” that occurred in 2011, following the Fukushima accident, when the entire east coast of China thought they could protect themselves from possible radiation poisoning with cooking salt, because they had no iodine pills.
“Do I have to store salt because of Japan?”
Today, the purchase of salt is governed more by the quality of the sachets and their origin. The trend is towards mountain salt, says the Beijing wholesaler: “Our salt comes from the Tibetan plateaus. It contains no polluting substances, which is why our sales have increased lately. We sell more than 2,000 packets of salt a week. As soon as I don’t know about sea salt. But you know what they say about sea salt now…”, he explains.
“Do I have to store salt because of Japan?” This is a recurring question in the comments on the Weibo network. On several occasions, Chinese diplomats have criticized the Japanese authorities for what they consider “an irreversible risk of damage to the seabed.” For the moment, this message seems to be addressed more abroad than to Chinese public opinion.