New York Times joined the bandwagon of "1,800 millisieverts/hour radiation that would kill in 4 hours" with the article by the Tokyo Bureau chief published on August 31, 2013.
In addition, according to New York Times, it was TEPCO who said so.
Well, TEPCO is refuting the reporting by the Japanese media of "1,800 millisieverts/hour radiation that would kill in 4 hours", and nowhere in the information TEPCO has made available (in the "email alert to the press" section and "handout for the press" section) does the company even indicate that.
But that's not what "the newspaper of record" says.
Nowhere does the article say the radiation is beta radiation, and that it is dose equivalent for skin and eye lens.
From New York Times (8/31/2013):
Radiation Near Japanese Plant’s Tanks Suggests New Leaks
By MARTIN FACKLER
Published: August 31, 2013
TOKYO — A crisis over contaminated water at Japan’s stricken nuclear plant worsened on Saturday when the plant’s operator said it had detected high radiation levels near storage tanks, a finding that raised the possibility of additional leaks.
The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said it had found the high levels of radiation at four separate spots on the ground, near some of the hundreds of tanks used to store toxic water produced by makeshift efforts to cool the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s three damaged reactors. The highest reading was 1,800 millisieverts per hour, or enough to give a lethal dose in about four hours, Tepco said.
(Full article at the link)
Bloomberg News Japan, on the other hand, decided to have a Japanese professor at Kinki University declare "1,800 mSv/hour exposure for 4 hours will kill people in 30 days if untreated" in its article on September 2, 2013. I don't know if this article has been translated into English yet. Again, no mention of beta radiation or dose equivalent.
Meanwhile, BBC Radio at least dropped the "lethal in 4 hours" part, and I just heard their news saying the 1,800 mSv/hr radiation is mostly beta radiation and with careful protection the workers could avoid most of exposure.
The Guardian sticks to the meme and says "The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours."
In the UK, "newspapers of record" are considered to be The Times and The Daily Telegraph.