Four years ago, following the Sendai tsunami and resulting explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Japanese government had just one goal: to minimize panic among the population, even if it meant blatantly lying about the resulting deadly radioactive fallout the public was exposed to. After all the top prerogative among government bureaucrats has always been to minimize social disturbance even if it means sacrificing countless individuals to a death that could have been avoided if only the government had told the truth from the beginning.
This was also the playbook followed by the Chinese government three days ago after the massive chemical plant explosion in China’s port of Tianjin where the casualty count is increasing with every passing day (85 dead at last check and rising fast), but where the real danger is that toxic gases and chemical fallout, just as dangerous and lethal as Fukushima’s beta and gamma waves, have spread in the air and water, and are jeopardizing the local population.
Initially the government did everything in its power to cover up the spread of deadly contaminants. As we reported yesterday, People’s Daily openly lied to the local population: “Authorities tasked with marine monitoring announced there were no hazardous chemicals detected in waters off the blast site in north China's port city Tianjin on Friday.
A statement from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said major measurement of seawater composition did not show any anomaly compared with historical records.
Hazardous materials such as cyanide and volatile phenol were not detected, while the variety of zooplankton was not affected either, it added.
The problem is that the Chinese government long ago lost all credibility and as we reported yesterday, local residents “wondered if even the air was safe because of the smoke, still billowing hours later from vestiges of the inferno, which destroyed an industrial zone near the port. Many people wore masks.”
“Right now, we don’t know anything,” said Sun Meirong, 52, an office cleaner who descended 13 flights of stairs with her 1-year-old grandson after the explosions blew in her apartment windows and front door.
… According to the Tianjin Tanggu Environmental Monitoring Station, calcium carbide was one of several toxic industrial chemicals stored by the company. The others included sodium cyanide, which can produce hydrogen cyanide, a volatile and flammable liquid; and toluene diisocyanate, which can also react violently in the presence of water.
We were quite skeptical the Chinese government can maintain the charade for long: unlike radiation whose effects take years to materialize, and thus afforded the Japanese government free reign to lie to the people with impunity for years, the effect of the Chinese toxic gases manifest themselves quickly, and usually with a combustible or deadly outcome.
Which is why we were not surprised to learn that Chinese authorities ordered the evacuation of residents within a 3km radius of the Tianjin blast site “over fears of chemical contamination” according to BBC.
Replace fears with reality: the evacuation came as police confirmed the highly toxic chemical sodium cyanide was found near the site.
People sheltering at a school used as a safe haven since the disaster have been asked to leave wearing masks and long trousers, reports say.
According to a tweet by The People's Daily, anti-chemical warfare troops have entered the site to handle highly toxic sodium cyanide which had been found there.
The discovery was confirmed by police "roughly east of the blast site" in an industrial zone, state-run Beijing News said.
What is Sodium Cyanide?
The chemical sodium cyanide is white crystalline or granular powder which can be rapidly fatal if inhaled or ingested, as it interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen.
It is mostly used in chemical manufacturing, for fumigation and in the mining industry to extract gold and silver.
It is soluble in water, and absorbs water from air, and its dust is also easy to inhale. When dissolved or burned, it releases the highly poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide.
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Which means that the lies can now end: officials have so far insisted that air and water quality levels are safe.
BBC adds that officials have also confirmed the presence of calcium carbide, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate. Calcium carbide reacts with water to create the highly explosive acetylene.
Ironically, just like in the case of Fukushima where the government is desperately hiding the fact that there has been a core meltdown, so in Tianjin the deadly chemicals have made such a toxic mix that some fires have continued to smoulder and at least one reignited on Saturday.
Xinhua said several cars at the site had "exploded again".
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Since the port of Tianjin a critical infrastructure hub in the inbound commodity pathway, handling a substantial portion of China’s iron ore and steel supply chain, today’s evacuation and the admission that the chemical fallout from the explosion was far worse than officially admitted, means that a non-trivial component of China’s trade is about to be mothballed indefinitely.
It also means that with both imports and exports set to suffer even more following last month’s shocking prolapse, which was the sole reason for China’s currency devaluation (the justification used by some pundits that China is simply eager to gain SDR acceptance is utter nonsense: China would not reveal it is adding to its gold holdings if it intended to appease the IMF, and certainly would not intervene daily to prop up its stock market, something the “free market” IMF finds abhorrent if only publicly), and with critical logistical networks now certain to be blocked indefinitely, resulting in GDP-crushing supply chain bottlenecks, Beijing – which was eager to slowdown its Yuan devaluation on Friday in order to avoid cross-asset contagion and further selling of stocks and an acceleration of the capital outflow – will have no choice but to devalue the currency even more in the coming week as the only offset to what may have well been a true black (or rather mushroom cloud shaped) swan event, one for which neither China nor the world, had absolutely any contingency plan.