Apr 112011

In post published yesterday titled  ‘Fukushima – Lifting the lead on radiation levels’, I discussed how the Japanese  government and some nuclear industry companies with everything to gain or lose, have raised the bar when it comes to the levels of permitted radiation for workers, lifting exposure limit  from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts. When contested by companies contracted by TEPCO supplying workers to deal with this crisis, the government argued back justifying their action saying they are following the ‘International Commission on Radiological Protection’ guide lines, which sets the upper limit in an emergency situation to a dose of 500-1,000 millisieverts.

But it is now clearly evident that those levels are nothing but safe, and are way way too high. Workers exposed to much lower levels suffer the consequence as reported by CNN

“One worker fell ill during the work on Sunday, the company said. The man, in his 30s, was placing hoses for collecting the contaminated water from reactor No. 2 when he became ill, nearly two hours into his shift.

“The subcontractor was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with exhaustion, Tokyo Electric said. He was exposed to 4.82 millisieverts of radiation, but no radioactive substances were found on his body. His cumulative exposure is 16 millisieverts, well below the 250-millisievert limit for workers in the plant. He was with a group of 30 subcontractors working in the area, and was wearing protective gear, the company said.” The man had been working four-hour shifts since March 23, Tokyo Electric said. It was unclear whether he had received a day off.”

This statement takes the new elevated exposure level and presents it as NORMAL and SAFE and implies the man became ill not because of radiation, but because of exhaustion. They state with confidence “He was exposed to 4.82 millisieverts of radiation… His cumulative exposure is 16 millisieverts” I wonder… was he equipped with radiation monitors, or was he one of the workers who were NOT equipped with radiation monitors due to shortages of units with alarms, as admitted by TEPCO few days ago?

It is hard to know for sure what really goes on and of course it is quite possible that many workers are exhausted, working hard in highly dangerous conditions to make sure we are all safe. But I have to admit trust is dwindling rapidly here…

If it looks like a fish and smells like a fish  – it probably IS a fish! Or a radioactive fish as the case maybe…