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Exposure levels of US sailors who helped to clean up Fukushima were much higher than had previously been reported.

The revelations contained in the report could have a bearing on the lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company by more than 70 U.S. service members who say they suffer from long-term health effects from their participation in the U.S. navy's response to the nuclear disaster.

Kyle Cleveland, a Temple University professor based in Japan, obtained documents showing military officials aboard the carrier detected radiation levels that were 30 times greater than normal and significantly greater than what the Japanese government told them to expect.

Navy officials have maintained that the radiation levels service members were exposed to during Operation Tomodachi were not enough to cause health effects.

But participants in the lawsuit have experienced a disproportionate number of health problems since the operation despite being in their 20's.

Participants in the lawsuit have experienced a variety of severe ailments in the three years since the operation, including cancers, tumors, chronic headaches and internal bleeding. One servicewoman involved in the suit alleges that the radiation she was exposed to on the USS Ronald Reagan caused her child to be born with multiple birth defects seven months after her participation in the disaster relief efforts.
It turns out that certain members of the US government did not challenge TEPCO's assessments of the radiation damage because they were afraid of affecting US relations abroad. Specifically, they did not want Japan to be seen as a mere client state of the US.

Cleveland, a professor, took an interest in the matter because he wanted to more effectively advise American students who wished to study abroad in Japan.

Cleveland began to study the crisis so that he could accurately advise his Study Abroad students on safety in the aftermath of the disaster, he told Stars and Stripes. Through his research and document requests, he examined the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdown, the unconfirmed information released by the Japanese and the Navy response in the first month afterward.

Cleveland reported that the U.S. government tried to maintain a delicate diplomatic balance, leading a rescue effort and advising their Japanese allies while not fully trusting Japan’s assessment of the danger. At the same time, the Navy was identifying the potential scope of the problem while taking steps to ensure the safety of its servicemembers.

The ship, the USS Reagan, was not informed of the contamination for one month.
Charles Bonner, attorney for the sailors, says the radiation the USS Ronald Reagan crew was exposed to extended beyond the tasks of Operation Tomodachi. Deployed ships desalinate their own water, so crew members were unknowingly drinking, cooking with, and bathing in contaminated water due to the ship's close proximity to the disaster site, according to Bonner. The USS Reagan was ultimately informed of the contamination after a month of living approximately 10 miles offshore from the affected region.

The number of plaintiffs in the case could grow significantly as 150 additional crew members are currently being medically screened to join. The sailors are seeking $40 million each in punitive damages as well as a $1 billion fund for future medical expenses for members of the USS Reagan.

One soldier, Michael Sebourn, said that he experienced mysterious symptoms and that doctors did not know what was wrong with him.
Since returning home, Sebourn says he very suddenly lost 50 to 60 percent of the power in the right side of his body. This shocked him when he walked into the gym one day and could only do his workout on his left side – he says his right side just didn’t work. Sebourn also says his right arm is now an inch-and-a-half shorter than his left when he flexes – another mystery.
He said that he was not in it for the money.
“Right now we’re going through this lawsuit, we’re not trying to get rich. I could care less about getting any monetary returns. What I’m looking for in the suit is a medical fund, money put aside for a medical fund, some place for all 70,000 people — [Department of Defense] civilians, family members, service members that were exposed to this — that someday if they develop problems down the road that [are found to be] linked to radiation exposure, that they have someplace they can go [to be] seen and treated where it’s not going to be a financial burden on them — to make sure that we’re taken care of down the road when we need it.”
The suit alleges that the utility knowingly kept the full extent of the radiation from Fukushima a secret knowing that the plaintiffs were going to be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.
Citing the 2012 Diet Commission report on the Fukushima disaster, lawyers Paul Garner and Charles Bonner say the utility knew the plaintiffs were going to be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation because it was aware that the plant had experienced a triple meltdown, but chose to keep it secret.

The plaintiffs are dealing with the consequences, say Garner and Bonner, “with illnesses such as leukemia, ulcers . . . brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding . . . and a host of other complaints unusual in such young adults.” The plaintiffs include a baby born with “multiple birth defects” to a servicewoman seven months after the meltdown.

“The injured servicemen and women will require treatment for their deteriorating health, medical monitoring, payment of their medical bills, appropriate health monitoring for their children and monitoring for possible radiation-induced genetic mutations,” says the lawsuit, which was filed in San Diego on Feb. 6. “Some of the radiological particles inside of these service personnel have long half-lives, from six to 50 to 100 years.”

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Comment Preferences

  •  Someone will be here soon to say "Psychosomatic" (9+ / 0-)
    The plaintiffs are dealing with the consequences, say Garner and Bonner, “with illnesses such as leukemia, ulcers . . . brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding . . . and a host of other complaints unusual in such young adults.” The plaintiffs include a baby born with “multiple birth defects” to a servicewoman seven months after the meltdown.
    Or to claim they are ex-sailors and these sailors are all lying. If those don't work they'll find some other way to banish the case. Don't be surprised.


    Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says Political Conventional Wisdoom.

    by Jim P on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 04:57:12 PM PDT

    •  They could be telling the truth (5+ / 0-)

      about their ailments, but just be wrong about the root cause. It takes a great deal of data to make statistical inferences as to the causes of cancer clusters and birth defects. These people could be very sick but no sicker statistically than any other ship full of people. It has nothing to do with them "lying".

      •  'or some other way to banish the case' (8+ / 0-)

        Let me explain statistics: working on averages tells a body nothing whatsoever about specific instances.

        There was a report of 37 fish caught off southern Japan, recently. One had 134 times the 'safe level' 4 had 4x, 32 had minimal or none of Fukushima isotopes in their body. (Ignore for a moment that the 'safe level' has been arbitrarily raised by a factor of 20, or was it 200 for fish?, by Japan after Fukushima.)

        Add them up, divide to get an average and you get "somewhat above average" for the lot. If the 134x-fish had not been caught, you'd have 'on average' well below the standard. But you'd have an 11% chance of eating a highly radioactive fish.

        Statistics and averages. Remember the expression? 'Lies, damned lies, and ...'

        There's just been research, too, which indicates that genetics plays a role in susceptibility to damage from radiation. Then of course there's the question of previous exposures/damage in the complainant population.

        At a certain point one has to use bloody common sense rather than bend over backwards for arcane and mystical 'explanations,' like those often found in defense of 'the levels aren't dangerous' claims. Again, thyroid cancer 'on average' doesn't show up for three years, leukemia five, iirc.

        But go into the details of that average and you'll find some show up after 1 year, and some after 7. So what's 'average' tell you, really?

        Not that much about specific instances. Here's a test that'll tell you more than any statistical analysis will ever tell you: Get together the officials of government, military, and nuke apologists, ask them to submit themselves to the recorded 30x-higher levels of radiation for an equivalent period of time, and then see how many, and what percentage, agree to do it.

        This is real life, this ain't a game or an intellectual exercise.


        Real fixes, outside the coffin fixes, ain't ever pragmatic says Political Conventional Wisdoom.

        by Jim P on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:05:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think you are on to something with this (0+ / 0-)

        Given a population of six thousands sailors, in general good health but working in the harsh environment of a carrier deployment, how many would you expect to come down with a serious illness in the course of three years? I don't know, but surely someone could get that number without too much difficulty.

        Is seventy five a lot bigger than that number?

        As well as, are these illnesses typical of what is seen in known cases of radiation exposure?  I would like to hear some informed opinion about that.

        In closing, I think you erred in writing "These people could be very sick but no sicker statistically" for that implies an average level of sickness - which is kind of a dumb concept in this case.  Perhaps "These people could be very sick but not in numbers significantly elevated from what is usually seen" might better fit your meaning.  Or something like that.

        o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel: Parati

        by tarkangi on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 01:02:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm still extremely skeptical. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doc2, murrayewv, tarkangi

    I imagine everyone is blaming anything unusual that happened to them on the radiation.

    Even if you were exposed to a week of 30 times background radiation, it comes out to only about as much as a spinal x-ray.

    •  All radiation is equal... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino

      Except that some radiation is more equal than others.

      Were they exposed to X-ray? Alpha? Beta? Gamma? Neutron? Did they ingest isotopes?

      A lot more is going on than the integration of time-exposure on a meter.

      The United States for All Americans

      by TakeSake on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 06:18:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What deceptive talking points you use (0+ / 0-)

      whoever told you that thing about background radiation was probably an apologist for the Nuclear Weapons/Power industry. It is one of their standard disinformation tactics because it totally ignores the possibility of internal contamination.

      Now that you are aware of this, one hopes not to see such dangerous and deceptive comments without qualification from you, otherwise your intentions may be questioned.  Turn your skepticism to the commanders and industry spokespeople, rather than the victims and the troops on the ground.

    •  the question is what exposure they had (3+ / 0-)

      to radioactive particles in the fallout, not just the radiation itself. anything that they ingested lodges itself in their bodies and continues to irradiate them as it decays.

  •  The DoD always says that whatever deadly (4+ / 0-)

    thing military members have been exposed to is not enough to cause health effects. It's part of the routine and we all know it's utter bullshit.

    The problem is the VA will fight any sailor that makes claims in a few years due to medical problems that can be linked to this incident, hoping that the sailor will either give up or die before the case can be settled.

    Thus is the pattern.

    See also:
     Agent Orange/Blue Water
    Nuclear Test Vets from WWII
    Burn Pit Vets
    Gulf War Illness
    Sexual Assault Survivors

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 06:27:05 AM PDT

    •  Also no one is looking (The VA hopes) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TakeSake, Eternal Hope

      at other exposures in service that could exacerbate any illness due to combination of factors.

      On ships, it's not unusual for sailors to complain that they can smell jet fuel residue in their shower water. That's a serious, petroleum product that carries it's own health effects.

      Topside, especially if we are talking boats with helos and airplains, the air quality aint great during take off and landing.

      Sailors who work electronics are often exposed to a variety of solvents use to clean their gear.

      Sailors perform corrosion control on the ship and the gear which means paint strippers, sanding (particulate matter) chipping, and then thinners and the paint itself.

      All of this crap all mixed together is enough to cause health problems even in a young healthy population in a few years. Now add radiation exposure as Fallout, in some food and water, and perhaps even direct skin contact in clean up.

      All of that together could cause some very bad health problems in 5 to 10 years in susceptible veterans, or could show up in their offspring as well.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 06:33:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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