Recently it was that discovered Fukushima radiation levels are '18 times higher' than thought.
The radiation level from some of the (leaky) tanks containing waste had been thought to be 100 millisieverts per hour (mSv/h). Why? Because they had been using a device that reads to a maximum limit of 100 mSv/h. When they brought in and used a device with a broader range, big surprise, the real level is 1800 mSv/h.
This could have quite a bit of significance for workers. A lethal dose is hard to be compute—there are lots of factors—but it appears that a lethal dose is around 5000 mSv cumulative. So the difference between 100 and 1800 mSv/h could be perhaps the difference between a worker receiving a lethal dosage in 50 hours versus just 3 hours.
I know Hanlon's razor says malice should not be assumed when stupidity is an adequate explanation, but sometimes it is really hard to tell the difference; especially when there is a huge motive for a little creative stupidity. There is a clear motive in this case: It is so much more expensive to hire workers when they can only work for 4 minutes per year...
I foresee broad usage of this principle in the future. It certainly could have been used in the past: "Well, yes, we did release cyanide gas into the holding chambers, but these devices we used measured the maximum concentration at 8 parts per million, which is well below the safe exposure limit."
(I mean, I would love to say to the officer, "I definitely wasn't speeding: My speedometer said 55 exactly." Think he'd let me off?)
Oh, and by the way, the Japanese government is now assuming responsibility for Fukushima, the cost of which will perhaps be as much as $150 billion U. S. The Tokyo Electric Power Company stockholders are now safe from harm—so long as they stay away from the site.
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