Far over a year into Shanghai metro security operation, somebody decided to check whether those much-hated scanners are operating in accordance with the proper safety measures. Turns out metro security are about as concerned with radiation safety as they are with actually scanning bags.
Not a single one of our 528 scanner machines was found to have a radiation safety license. The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau has thus labeled all the machines illegal:
“None of the X-ray machines in the Metro stations has gone through an environment impact assessment to get a radiation safety license as the law requires, which means they are all illegal devices in operation,” said Chen Jiliang, deputy director of the radiation inspection department under the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
Without the proper testing, not only could they be emitting excessive levels of radiation, we might also be breathing in “emissions of ozone and nitric oxide.”
Metro security was first put in place for Expo last year (as it was in Beijing before the Olympics) and for some reason Shanghai deemed it necessary to keep the totally system in place permanently. It has provided that extra mild dose of irritation every time you charge past the defeated, indifferent one-armed suggestion of the guard and wonder what the hell they are doing there anyway.
The Shanghai Metro now claims they didn’t test the machines properly because there were simply too many of them, and not enough time before Expo! (There are a few other aspects of our metro system that we now suspect have seen similar degrees of neglect.) To save time, they had the machines sampled and tested by a third party (not the proper government regulator) who deemed them satisfactory.
Apparently testing on the scanners has been going on for a year now, and only about 245 of the machines have been cleared. They now promise to get all the machines licensed before the end of the month, but they will not shut down metro security in the mean time.
In the case that any machines actually are found to have been operating unsafely, the real losers here will be the metro guards themselves. Although standing for hours on end in front of a nuclear death machine is probably just about as pleasant as dealing with belligerent passengers during the savage Shanghai rush hour.
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