World diaper supply threatened amid blast in Japan plant

Posted at 09/30/12 5:26 PM

TOKYO - An explosion at a large Japanese chemical plant has sparked fears of a global shortage of disposable diapers, a report Sunday.

A tank at chemical producer Nippon Shokubai's factory in Himeji city, Hyogo prefecture, exploded Saturday, killing a firefighter and injuring 35 other emergency service workers who responded to a callout, the fire service said.

The company has a 20-percent global share of superabsorbent polymer, which is used in the production of diapers, the Sankei Shimbun daily said.

If the operation of the factory is suspended for a long time, it could affect production of disposable diapers, the newspaper said.

The company produces 320,000 tons of superabsorbent polymer at the Himeji plant annually, the Sankei said.

Nippon Shokubai had planned to boost its production to meet the growing demand for disposable diapers in China, the paper said.