China ramps up radioactive monitoring and disclosure
By Tuesday, eleven days after the catastrophe in Japan, the Ministry of Environmental Protection had released radiation monitoring information at least 15 times to demonstrate that there is no immediate threat from radioactive leaks.
The information disclosure was stepped up after reports of panic buying of salt, based on the erroneous assumption by many that the iodine contained in salt would help shield them from radioactivity. The situation eased after the government ordered the securing of salt supplies and experts confirmed that salt was almost useless to counter radiation.
Agricultural and sideline products, such as rice and edible oil, were also in high demand in some regions. Rumors like "radiation-containing rain" spread through the Internet while, according to the State Oceanic Administration, the samples from the Yellow Sea coast showed no abnormal radiation so far.
Xia Yihua, a researcher with the China Institute of Atomic Energy, said that the public had little access to nuclear knowledge and people are eager to acquire authentic information through authoritative channels.
"The government has attached great importance to nuclear information disclosure, and we release information only after discreet confirmation," Xia said.
Environmental protection authorities required monitoring stations to keep a closer watch on radiation data and report every three hours, instead of twice a day.
On Monday, the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau released environmental protection data on the city from March 12 to 20 and announced that it would continue to disclose the data in the future.
Chai Guohan, a researcher with the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Center operated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said that the preciseness and openness of nuclear information was helpful to dispel public panic.
"Central and local environmental protection departments release authoritative information every day, and people should trust it, instead of rumors from other sources," Chai said.