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Japan Earth Technology

Subcontractor Tells Fukushima Workers To Hide Radiation Exposure 439

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-lie-with-statistics-in-a-big-way dept.
First time accepted submitter fredprado writes "Apparently at least one subcontractor hired to clean up the Fukushima site has been urging their workers to put their radiation detectors lined under lead shieldings. A diagram can be seen here. The authorities decided not to prosecute him, even after one employee presenting them recordings of him trying to talk the said employee into it."
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Subcontractor Tells Fukushima Workers To Hide Radiation Exposure

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:13PM (#40730797)

    makes sense; those things are probably expensive and, I gather, are sensitive to radiation. Don't want to risk damaging them.

    • by msauve (701917) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:02PM (#40731087)
      By similar logic, people should drive at night with their headlights off. If they can't be seen, it makes it harder for other drivers to hit them.
      • by sco08y (615665)

        By similar logic, people should drive at night with their headlights off. If they can't be seen, it makes it harder for other drivers to hit them.

        That's good advice in some places.

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @07:22PM (#40732311) Journal

        By similar logic, people should drive at night with their headlights off. If they can't be seen, it makes it harder for other drivers to hit them.

        Right. I think you're catching on. An extra advantage is, when your lights are on, the light going out pushes your car backwards. That's alright if you want it, but if you turn off your lights, you can literally save gas. And gas is our most valuable natural resource.

    • Don't want to risk damaging them.

      Of course. Much better to damage cheaper, more expendable, replaceable components.

      And of course, it's much better to talk about this detector issue than the 36 percent Of Fukushima kids who have abnormal thyroid growths. We don't want people to think there may be negative consequences to nuclear power.

      1. "It is extremely rare to find cysts and thyroid nodules in children."

      2. "This is an extremely large number of abnormalities to find in children."

      3. "You would not expect abnormalities to appear so early — within the first year or so — therefore one can assume that they must have received a high dose of [radiation]."

      4. "It is impossible to know, from what [officials in Japan] are saying, what these lesions are."

      Dr. Helen Caldicott, pediatrician, about the implications of the study.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/fukushima-children-have-abnormal-thyroid-growths-2012-7 [businessinsider.com]

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:17PM (#40730819)

    This is why we need more unions and more workers rights.

    and they should be able to use contractors and subcontractors to get out being liable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968)
      Codify workers rights in LAW, not illegal pooling of power.
      • by jfengel (409917) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:30PM (#40730891) Homepage Journal

        And how are they supposed to do that? Individual workers calling their Senators up on the phone, each one of them telling the Senator something slightly different from the last one? Senators don't take phone calls from workers. They take phone calls from executives.

        Actually, they don't take phone calls from either. They take phone calls from lobbyists, people with whom they have a relationship and who have worked with them before. Corporate management has plenty of money to hire them. Individual workers don't.

        They can, however, get together and pool their money to hire a lobbyist. We should make up a name for such a unified group of people.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>And how are they supposed to do that? Individual workers calling their Senators up on the phone

          Sure why not.
          Also remind the Senator that he's up for relection, and you're inclined not to vote for him if he passes laws that screw you.

          >>>They can, however, get together and pool their money to hire a lobbyist. We should make up a name for such a unified group of people.

          I'd rather outlaw the existence of corporate speech; they can no longer hire lobbyists, else they lose their license to ex

          • by mwlewis (794711)
            Why would anyone think that the workers agree with whatever the company says? That makes no sense. Now, if the company is saying something that the owners don't agree with, then there's a problem.
          • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @04:23PM (#40731493)

            I'd rather outlaw the existence of corporate speech; they can no longer hire lobbyists

            Lobbyists are simply people. Corporations are headed up by CEOs. Are you going to make it illegal for them to contact their reps?

            The only problems with your ideas is that they would be gross violations of the first amendment, and are more dangerous than the issues they are trying to fix.

          • I'd rather outlaw the existence of corporate speech

            And how do you expect to do that?

        • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:10PM (#40731129) Journal
          You are talking about America. In most countries, what Americans call "lobbying" is called "corruption" ans is illegal.
        • In the UK we have Health and Safety guys to enforce that kind of thing. It is their job to protect workers and nothing else. Their authority overrules other managers in most cases.

        • by Fuzzums (250400)

          Communists?

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          We should make up a name for such a unified group of people.

          And then we should make it compulsory for workers to join such a group and garnish their salary!

          Lobbyists for all!

      • by tomhath (637240)

        It sounds like that has already happened:

        Japan's health ministry said on Sunday it would investigate the reports, Reuters reported.

        Japanese law has set an annual radiation exposure safety threshold of 50 millisieverts for nuclear plant workers during normal operations.

        I don't see anything in the linked articles which indicates there has been a decision to not prosecute him though. FUD headline.

      • Illegal pooling of power? I guess you can make anything illegal, but from say a Rothbardian natural rights point of view (I'm guessing you're a libertarian) there is absolutely nothing wrong with banding together in contract negotiations (unless there are pre-existing contractual promises not to do so). Nor even stipulating in those negotiations that all employees have to be union ...

        Now of course a lot of current employment law is not exactly Rothbardian, but that's an orthogonal issue.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Codify workers rights in LAW, not illegal pooling of power.

        Historically, the only way to get worker rights codified in LAW has been for workers to join together and give the politicians the choice between that and a communist revolution.

        Also, I'm not sure exactly what laws you're referring to when you declare pooling of power to be illegal. Care to elaborate?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Um. No.

      Here's the nice thing about the free market. If you don't like something your employer tells you to do, you don't have to work for them. In fact, with a free enough society, you can tell others what your employer tried to tell you to do which will either:

      A) Cause the employer's customers not to support him and therefore he goes bust.

      B) Cause the employees to all quit their job or demand higher pay to work.

      C) Cause the employer to change his orders to prevent A or B from happening.
      • Doesn't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsilvergun (571051) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:43PM (#40730971)
        Really. It doesn't. Globalism Breaks Capitalism. Period. It's that simple. You are completing on the global stage. Your employer is not. You can't win. You can't keep up. They will import desperate workers from impoverished countries. You will compete with them for food and shelter. Automation makes you disposable and obsolete. You can't work elsewhere, because there are very few jobs (automation) and there are lots of people to do those jobs (globalism).

        Free market Capitalism is fundamentally broken. Adam Smith wasn't a futurist. He had no vision. Ayn Rand was just a little woman afraid of a nasty dictator. Get over your fear, and learn to face facts. Adam couldn't, Ayn couldn't. Can you?
        • Re:Doesn't work. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:57PM (#40731053)

          Many people have recognized this.
          And many intellectuals have come to recognize Karl Marx as what he was: A great economist.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          I can't keep up?

          What I believe you are forgetting is that humans aren't machinery. The right employees can make and break a company. Companies who believe that employees are disposable and you can find another usually don't stay in business for very long.

          And, no, I'm not talking about head CEOs or people with "vision" for the company but everyday, common, employees. If an employee adds no value compared to their cost, of course they will be replaced with someone who does, so the goal as an employee
        • Re:Doesn't work. (Score:5, Informative)

          by geoskd (321194) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:09PM (#40731119)

          No where in all that did I see any hint of a better idea.

          The root of our economic problem (as you hinted at, but stopped short of actually saying), is that our economy depends on balance. That balance is the level of production and the level of consumption being about equal. When Production becomes too great, companies cut back. When consumption becomes too great, shortages drive up costs and cause a bubble (which will burst). The basic trouble is that technology constantly drives increases in production, and decreases in overall consumption. (Greater production at lower cost, pushes wealth to the top, but the consumers have less money to buy things, so consumption actually is reduced. There are only two forces on earth that combat this trend, and restore balance to the economy, and one or both will result. The first is taxes. The best known way to get the wealth back from the top, and restore the consumption power it has, is to return it to the bottom by the way of social programs (health care, disability, welfare). The second way is revolution. With not enough taxes on the wealthy to counteract the concentrating effects of innovation, the concentration of wealth at the top unbalances the economy, causing rapid economic swings, volatile prices, and unemployment. If the process continues unchecked, the only logical result is revolution, and it is invariable, and inevitable.

          -=Geoskd

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Have to step in to defend Adam Smith here. He actually did see the problems that inevitably come with employers having more power than workers, and (as he did with everything) went on at some length about it. If half the people wearing Adam Smith ties had actually read The Wealth of Nations, they'd call him a commie.

        • Adam smith never envisioned the invisible hand to get the invisible finger.
        • Re:Doesn't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:24PM (#40731219) Homepage

          It's worth noting that Smith strongly advocated market regulation. He warned that inadequate or incompetent regulation of the market would lead to exactly the sorts of problems we're having now. He further warned against anything like corporate personhood as that would remove moral thinking from economic decisions.

          The so-called proponents of Smith's Capitalism are VERY selective about which parts they implement and 100% of his warnings have fallen on deaf ears. They are just as bad as the fundamentalist Jihadists who like to skip over all the bits about not killing 'people of the book'.

        • by The Raven (30575)

          This outlook is common, and unfortunately it is fundamentally bigoted.

          "I am deserving of this job, but that brown skinned person is not! He's willing to work for less than me, and live in worse conditions than me, therefor I'm a better person. Having to compete with people who demand less sucks."

          It does suck, but globalization fundamentally equalizes things. You forget that you live on 30-50K a year, while billions of people live on under $5000 a year. If some of those people currently living in such horrib

        • by khallow (566160)

          Really. It doesn't. Globalism Breaks Capitalism. Period. It's that simple. You are completing on the global stage. Your employer is not. You can't win. You can't keep up. They will import desperate workers from impoverished countries. You will compete with them for food and shelter. Automation makes you disposable and obsolete. You can't work elsewhere, because there are very few jobs (automation) and there are lots of people to do those jobs (globalism).

          Well, I have to disagree. The problem isn't that developed world workers are competing on the global stage, but that they aren't competing. I can't speak for the obstacles that hinder employment in other countries, but the US has imposed substantial barriers to employing US citizens.

          For example, Social Security increases the cost of US labor by about 15%. That's about a tenth of the difference in cost between a US worker and a Chinese worker of similar skills. Similar losses come from how the US does hea

    • by Teresita (982888)
      Are you kidding? If the radiation detector reaches a certain level, that means the contractor has to kick that employee to the curb and hire a fresh one. You know how much that cuts into the profit margin?
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      Japan already has both.

      What they also have, same as the USA, is government in the pockets of large corporations.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      it's really an IQ test to see if the workers are really intelligent enough to be working at such a location. Slip your radiation detector badge into the shielded sleeve and you get reassigned to digging utility trenches using a shovel.

      LoB
  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:19PM (#40730833)
    Is there a translation? This is quite a serious allegation if true.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      It's a serious allegation. And there's more coverage [nbcnews.com] than one article in Japanese.

      However... I wonder how "effective" that little bit of lead shielding would actually be at "hiding" radiation exposure.

      A tiny little shielding that you can wear like that won't deflect a whole lot of certain kinds of radiation. If you have a dosimeter reading from behind the shielding, it's likely possible that officials will "correct" the reading, based on the radiation deflection characteristics of the shield, and the r

      • Yes, I did read TFA. I was curious about what that poster actually says.
      • Re:That Poster... (Score:5, Informative)

        by ChumpusRex2003 (726306) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @05:10PM (#40731739)

        The lead is likely very effective at reducing recorded exposure - probably cutting it by 75-90%. Most of the radiation in a typical fission product incident is beta radiation, which will be substantially attenuated by 1 mm of lead (the beta particles won't get through, but probably 1-2% of their energy may get through as bremmstrahlung X-rays). Gamma rays, will also be attenuated but only by a few % (high energy direct photons won't be significantly affected, but photons scattered from concrete, etc. will be of much lower energy, so will tend to be heavily attenuated).

        There are plenty of radiation suits that offer 0.1 or 0.2 mm lead equivalent protection (they don't usually contain lead for environmental reasons, bismuth is usually used instead). These are quite useful for protection against beta energy, even if they do nothing for gamma. However, the sheer weight of even a 0.2 mm lead suit makes it only barely practical (though I understand the US military have bought a lot of them).

        However, lead boots are a sensible precaution - most of the radiation in a Fukushima type incident is in the form of water soluble or suspended particles, which pool on the floor in puddles. Severe radiation injury to the feet from beta emitters is possible - 1mm lead equivalent rubber boots are tolerable to wear, and would offer substantial protection to the feet.

  • Don't panic (Score:5, Funny)

    by arcite (661011) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:19PM (#40730835)
    Three eyed fish are delicious.
  • one good result: (Score:5, Interesting)

    the Japanese people will no longer blindly trust their government

    • by Goaway (82658)

      It is pretty condescending of you to suggest they have been "blindly trusting" anyone up until now.

      And I am somewhat unclear on how the fact that a company forced its employees to lie and put them at risk is going to make them distrustful of the government?

      • It is pretty condescending of you to suggest they have been "blindly trusting" anyone up until now.

        And I am somewhat unclear on how the fact that a company forced its employees to lie and put them at risk is going to make them distrustful of the government?

        As someone who lives in Japan, I can truly say that at least up till 3/11 the Japanese majority was exactly blindly trusting the government. And the few that did not trust the government,did not care. This is all changing now. Well there are still many that don't care, but at least there are a good percentage of people really starting to questioning the system, ready to take the red pill and unplug.

  • You know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:26PM (#40730871)

    You know, it would be a lot easier to refute anti nuclear fears as being overly paranoid if we stopped giving them reasons to be just that. The situation would be have been under much better control and (slightly) less of a PR disaster if they would just stop with the lies.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:27PM (#40730873) Journal
    Thyroid cysts or nodules are being found [telegraph.co.uk] in 36% of 38,000 Fukushima children. A 2001 study in Nagasaki found an incidence of 0%. Thyroid is associated with iodine, as the substance is essential to its function. Iodine-131 was a considerable component of the contaminants released in the incident.
    • by Psion (2244) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:41PM (#40730961)
      That same article states:

      "Yes, 35.8 percent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer," said Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School Hospital, which administered the tests.

      "We do not know that cause of this, but it is hard to believe that is due to the effects of radiation," she said. "This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure after four or five years."

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Nice try trying to play that angle down by the professor there. I note she didn't seem to offer any alternative explanation.

        Virtually all the children living near Chernobyl had to have their thyroids removed. It is a known effect of getting radioactive iodine in the body, especially children's bodies. Fukushima put lots of iodine in the surrounding area. There is no other reasonable explanation.

        Apparently we underestimated the speed with which these cysts develop.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:31PM (#40730907)

    Government coverup. Just like they lied about how much radiation there really was. (Turns out they cut their readings by 1/3rd.) Or how the government claimed the air quality at the burning WTC wreckage was "safe" even though it wasn't. Governments don't protect the people; they lie, inveigle, and deny.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      What's the alternative? The government can't say what would be best for the people: "Run!"

    • by lessthan (977374)

      I also read an article in the July issue of Popular Science that says that right after the disaster, the Japanese government doubled the amount they listed as the "safe" amount of radiation per year.
      I would love it if we started switching to the micro nuke power plants, but how can we? The world governments' first reaction to a nuclear disaster is to lie and cover up.

  • Moral Credibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @03:09PM (#40731125)
    In order to safely operate today's generation of nuclear fission reactors, you need the operators and regulators to be transparent and competent. The folks running this Fukushima travesty are neither transparent nor competent.

    Therefore I am forced to conclude that the human race in 2012 does not have the moral credibility to be trusted to operate nuclear fission reactors.
    • by maestroX (1061960)
      agreed.
    • say what ? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aepervius (535155)
      A man mugged me. Therefore all men are thieves. Some woman betrayed me with my best friend therefor all women are cunt. Generalizing is stupid. You are generalizing from one company to the whole fucking human race. This is neither interresting nor insightful.
  • by emt377 (610337)

    This is actually pretty typical when technocrats are in charge. Because they have huge stockpiles of paid-for dosimeters that workers use every day, but which saturate at very low levels, they decide they're going to use those by putting them behind a shield and then adjusting the readings correspondingly. Makes sense, except they give absolutely no consideration to appearances. Ignorant journalists and nutty lefty conspiracy theorists then have a field day.

    • Are you being paid by TEPCO to tell lies or are you just a worthless piece of shit who has no fucking idea whatsoever about the physics of ionizing radiation, radiation safety or how dosimeters work? I'm leaning towards the latter myself. You're just some conservative or libertarded piece of shit who wanted to post some stupid shit and rant about "ignorant journalists and nutty lefty conspiracy theorists". If you start looking at radiation accidents you find that a depressingly large number of them happen b
    • by jrumney (197329)

      This is actually pretty typical when technocrats are in charge. Because they have huge stockpiles of paid-for dosimeters that workers use every day, but which saturate at very low levels, they decide they're going to use those by putting them behind a shield and then adjusting the readings correspondingly. Makes sense, except they give absolutely no consideration to appearances. Ignorant journalists and nutty lefty conspiracy theorists then have a field day.

      Nice try at a plausible explanation. So just show

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