Three years after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan, evidence is mounting that the United States is covering up a massive case of radiation exposure and sickness among the military men and women who responded to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. This story has been brewing for months, but now journalist Karen Charman is giving us the most detailed account of how hundreds of American sailors on humanitarian missions — and others — were carelessly exposed to high levels of radiation when the storm-battered Fukushima plant failed — and how the government is now working to keep this crisis secret. She compares the case to other notorious episodes of the American military poisoning its troops with toxics, including Cold War-era nuclear testing and Agent Orange in Vietnam.
At least 79 of those sailors now suffer serious health effects consistent with radiation exposure. Some of the sailors have filed a class action lawsuit against the Japanese power company, accusing it of hiding what it knew about the escaping radiation and seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as $1 billion for a fund to cover their medical monitoring and treatment. Some of them also blame the U.S. Navy, which denies that its sailors were exposed to harmful levels of radiation.
Paul Garner, the lead attorney on the case, told WhoWhatWhy that a much larger group of military personnel were exposed to radiation, and he expects the number signing on to the lawsuit to rise as more people develop symptoms. He reeled off a long list of alarming health complaints among the nearly 100 former Operation Tomodachi participants he’s interviewed. So far, about half have developed cancer—of the brain, eye, testes, thyroid, or blood (leukemia). “These kids were first responders,” Garner says. “They went in happily doing a humanitarian mission, and they came out cooked.”
The article notes that the Navy and other U.S. agencies never properly monitored the amounts of radiation that the troops were exposed to, which makes it harder today to determine exactly who is at risk, let alone the seriousness of the exposure. It also points out that considerable blame belongs to the Japanese utility company TEPCO, which never came clean in those critical days about the serious extent of the meltdown that was occurring in Fukushima. Not surprisingly, the personal stories of those who were exposed are heart-wrenching:
After two or three weeks, [Lindsay] Cooper says, people started getting sick. She witnessed crewmembers running and vomiting over the side of the flight deck, because they couldn’t wait in the long lines to go through decontamination before being allowed to get to the bathroom.
Nearly three years later, Cooper, 24, suffers from a severely dysfunctional menstrual cycle, a problem that began about a month after she arrived in Japan. She also regularly gains 40 to 50 pounds over the course of a month and then loses it. Veterans Administration doctors attribute her severe problems to nothing other than “stress.”
One of Cooper’s fellow sailors, Judy Goodwin, had her gall bladder taken out after returning home from the 2011 mission to Japan, and is experiencing liver problems as well, but the Veterans Administration also claims in her case that it cannot establish a connection to the radiation from Fukushima.
Yet the article quotes a recent report from a Temple University researcher , which includes” a transcribed telephone conversation Cleveland received from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which reveals that monitors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan picked up radiation levels 30 times higher than normal out at sea 100 miles from the reactors. The nuclear expert quoted in the transcript was surprised to detect anything at that distance and says radiation levels were high enough to damage people’s thyroids after ten hours of exposure.”
Yet despite this early evidence of widespread radioactivity, efforts at curbing exposure — limiting who could go on the deck of the carrier and for how long, or asking personnel to wear rubber boots over their regular footwear — were inadequate and poorly carried out. Other sailors interviewed for the piece complain of symptoms such as muscle weakness, headaches, nosebleeds, sensitivity to the sun, bladder problems, and more. Yet the government has failed to adequately monitor as many as 75,000 American personnel who were based in Japan or responded to the earthquake.
I want to repeat something I said previously — these sailors are going to need a good lawyer to receive any kind of justice for the pain they’ve experienced since 2011. For decades now, we’ve seen time and time again that Washington is more concerned about limiting its own liability than about doing what’s right for men and women who responded bravely in a crisis to offer humanitarian aid.
This is so typical of what I’ve seen in my own 25-year career as a radiation attorney, winning verdicts and fair settlements for workers and property owners exposed to radiation from the carelessness of the Big Oil giants. The only path for a fair outcome is the legal system. Hopefully, a jury of their peers will be able to cut through the official web of lies in the Fukushima debacle, and start to make things right for these American heroes.
Read Karen Charman’s expose of the radiation health crisis for Americans who responded to Fukushima: http://www.globalresearch.ca/american-sailors-exposed-to-fukushima-radiation/5378686
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