Department of Defense to Report on Health of Radiation-Afflicted Sailors Aboard USS Ronald Reagan
When a massive tsunami struck the coast of Japan in March 2011, the US responded by sending 24 Navy ships, 189 aircraft and 24,000 service personnel to the island. The humanitarian mission, Operation Tomodachi, voyaged into the wreckage of the tsunami aftermath, as crews began searching for bodies.
During the tsunami, catastrophic winds and ocean water engulfed the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power plant, triggering explosions and reactor meltdowns that released highly radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean and the open skies.
USS Ronald Reagan blasted by radioactive plumes, as servicemen and women go ill
Just one day after the tsunami struck Japan, 5,500 brave men and women aboard the USS Ronald Reagan ventured into the devastation. “On that first day, we pretty much immediately started search and rescue,” recalled 34-year-old Lindsay Cooper.
During the mission, without any warning, a plume of radiation struck the aircraft carrier, bludgeoning the senses of those on board.
“Next thing we know we’ve got this nasty, metallic taste in our mouth.” Cooper says the crew was ordered below and believes that they “had just got slammed by a radioactive plume.” The metal taste was reminiscent of testimony from those who lived downwind of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown in 1979.
Cooper remembers passing through multiple radioactive plumes that made those on board vomit, with rashes appearing. “It was a real big problem. We thought gastroenteritis was going around the ship.”
When she returned to civilian life, a multitude of health issues emerged, including dramatic weight swings, thyroid issues and abnormal menstrual cycles. She says she wasn’t the only one affected.
In fact, fellow shipmate Thomas McCant was discharged five months after being caught in the plume. Bizarre stomach pain, weight loss and fatigue took over his body. It wasn’t long before the once fit soldier was diagnosed with chronic myeloid lymphoma.
At least one hundred servicemen and women sue TEPCO
McCant joins about 100 others who were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, in a lawsuit against TEPCO. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the Fukushima plant, says that the matter is out of US jurisdiction.
Representing the servicemen and women from the USS Ronald Reagan, San Diego lawyer Paul Garner says that TEPCO is registered in California as a foreign corporation and can be held liable. While TEPCO denies that any harm was done to those on board, Garner says many plaintiffs, most in their 20s, have been diagnosed with “cancers, leukaemias, bleeding from vagina and rectum, abnormal growths,
loss of eyesight, migraine headaches, weight gain/loss,
immunodeficiencies [and] loss of strength [and] mobility.”
TEPCO allegedly mislead the US about known radioactive leaks, plumes
Garner believes TEPCO knew about the reactor meltdown on March 11, 2011, and negligently misled the US military. Garner believes that TEPCO knew about the 400 tons of radioactive material leaking into the oceans daily and that they “knowingly and negligently caused, permitted and allowed false and misleading information concerning the true nature of the FNPP [Fukushima plant] to be disseminated to the public, including the US Navy, Air Force and Marines.”
According to the aircraft carrier’s deck log, the ship was struck by radioactive plumes that lasted up to five hours. “Entered nuclear radiation plume at Lat 37:25 N, Long 144:0 E,” says one entry, entered at 23:45 hours on March 16. At 05:07 on March 17, the log reports, “Exited radiation plume at Lat 37 24.9 N Longitude 143.53.9 E.”
How will US Department of Defense respond?
As the US Department of Defense prepared to report on this, how will the issue be resolved? Will the stories of these brave servicemen and women be brought to life? Can it be proven in court that TEPCO withheld information? Can it be proven that the radioactive plume caused the many health problems that are now appearing in those who were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in March 2011?
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