U.S. Sailors Sue Japanese Company Over Radiation Injuries Following The Fukushima Disaster

260px-Fukushima_I_by_Digital_Globe220px-ChopperDecon2011There is a little reported story about U.S. service members who have developed cancer and other illnesses after serving in the rescue efforts following the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In an account that could have easily been written for the nuclear tests in the 1950s, service members have said that the Navy told them that there was no harm from radiation so long as they avoided the plume rising from the plant.


Both Quartermaster Maurice Enis and his fiancé (and fellow quartermaster) Jamie Plym came down with radiation illness after serving on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan. Plym developed severe bronchitis and hemorrhaging while Enis developed lumps all over his body. Some 50 crew members on the Reagan and sister ship the USS Essex now trace illnesses including thyroid and testicular cancers, leukemia and brain tumors. They have filed a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which allegedly delayed warnings about the radiation in the water. TEPCO officials have been repeatedly accused of lying or misrepresenting dangers since the disasters and have shown stunning incompetence in dealing with the continued contamination of the ocean water.

Because of the infamous Feres Doctrine, they cannot sue the military for negligence though the litigants insists it was TEPCO the actively withheld risk data to get them to work in dangerous areas.

53 thoughts on “U.S. Sailors Sue Japanese Company Over Radiation Injuries Following The Fukushima Disaster

  1. I wonder if anyone will bring up the matter of how outraged the Japanese people were following the tragedy of fallout from the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test on Bikini in February 1954. That was the incident where the test went wrong due to miscalculations by the physicists, and there was a bigger plume than expected. Winds carried the fallout over the Japanese fishing vessel Daigo Fukuryū Maru (“Lucky Dragon No. 5″). The crew was sickened by radiation from the fallout, and one crew member died.

    That accident caused the US to change its policy on above ground testing. Wonder if the Japanese government will change its policy?

    http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Castle.html

  2. Surprising that military members would be victims of this. I would have assumed that a military unit this size would have extensive radiation monitoring capability, and protective and decontamination gear.

    What ever the doctrine, it seems likely somebody blundered and should be held accountable.

    This is one situation were I would like to see a thorough investigation.

  3. If it were I I would think there was probably more danger then just the plume given what we know about “nuclear winter” but would they have had any choice? If the military says go there can they say “I don’t think so” and refuse?

  4. Unless they can show special circumstances, it is very unlikely that they were exposed to high levels of radiation or that their illnesses were caused by the nuclear accident.

    By all means conduct a thorough investigation. But unless specific exposures can be demonstrated, these various illnesses were probably caused by their normal various other causes, not radiation.

  5. While that is a disturbing outcome and I wish the sailors well, Fukushima is a continuing disaster that is basically ignored by main stream corporate controlled media. Radiation continues to flow into the Pacific and currents transport the radiation to US/Canadian western shores. How this crisis is ignored by so many is remarkable and it could very well bare tragic consequences to animal and human life.

  6. http://nypost.com/2013/12/22/70-navy-sailors-left-sickened-by-radiation-after-japan-rescue/

    At least 70 have been stricken with some form of radiation sickness, and of those, “at least half . . . are suffering from some form of cancer,” their lawyer, Paul Garner, told The Post Saturday.
    “We’re seeing leukemia, testicular cancer and unremitting gynecological bleeding requiring transfusions and other intervention,” said Garner, who is representing 51 crew members suing the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant.
    “Then you have thyroid polyps, other thyroid diseases,” added Garner, who plans to file an amended lawsuit in federal court in San Diego next month that will bring the number of plaintiffs past 70.

  7. Some species of humans are incapable of handling anything nuclear or what we used to call atomic. Any specie that is crooked is unfit for being in possession of an atomic 4 for example. As with any Pirate Territory we made a mistake of being there to help. Fly over and flush. This nuclear waste in the ocean will wash ashore at Pearl Harbor on December 7th each year. Some things never change.

  8. TEPCO: Not all pumped-in water reached overheating Fukushima reactors
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/analysis/AJ201312140030

    TEPCO said more than seven times the requisite volume of cooling water was pumped into the No. 2 reactor. But the water failed to cool it and the other reactors efficiently, and could not stop the core meltdowns in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

    An examination of pipe diagrams and related equipment showed the pipes to the reactors had branches leading off to other areas and devices, such as condensation storage tanks. TEPCO concluded that too much of the pumped-in water leaked into those branches and never reached the reactors.

    TEPCO officials said they knew as early as late March 2011 about those leakage routes.

    “We should have shared the finding with the public in the belief it would help promote universal safety, but failed to do so,” said TEPCO Managing Executive Officer Takafumi Anegawa.

  9. Fifty rather sudden cancers so soon in the wake of Fukishima certainly seems ’cause and effect’ like to me. And for the Navy to lie to those men certainly was an abuse of the powers of command.

  10. People totally want to believe that someone is looking out for them and protecting them, if not god, then government, or a spouse. Always be skeptical that anyone is looking out for you.

  11. OS,

    I have no doubt that all of the nuke planets in the US/world should be decommissioned & torn down right away. That’s the same opinion of many experts in energy field as well.

    I’m interested if you have asked you theoretical physicist friend what we are going to replace the US’s approximately 20% nuke produced electric with?

    It’s been awhile since I focused heavily on energy issues, but I believe the correct number is about a 1/3rd of Nuke energy is wasted in just getting the fuel out of the ground & refined for the plant.

    So that lost energy could be available for direct conversion of electric production, we’d then only be talking about a lose of 14% generation if nuke plants were shut down.

    I’m still promoting onsite generation & storage.

  12. If we are talking US Navy, where is their responsibility in warning their men and giving them protective clothing? Of course, with only one body per lifetime I would not blame anyone from getting relief from anywhere available with that kind of tragedy. What about Israel? I’m still following the rumours but Netanyahu comes out of 3/11 smelling like Adolph Eichman.

  13. I hope the Oky1 statement is unsubstantiated. I think that Fukishima cannot compare with nuclear testing in the sixties simply because we would already have a sick & dying planet worldwide if not for banning testing when it occured with Kruschev & with Kennedy. History shows it to have been in the nick of time. Keep taking your iodine & niacin.

  14. “If we are talking US Navy, where is their responsibility in warning their men and giving them protective clothing?”

    I thought force protection is always the responsibility of officers – what ever the mission.

    I am guessing that exposure to radiation of magnitude great enough to cause this kind of response was avoidable or could have been mitigated by protective measures.

    One of the first questions would be what CBW measures, to monitor radiation exposure, were in effect at the time missions were undertaken.

    If these individuals did encounter radiation enough to cause these problems then there is the possibility that contaminated equipment could still be in use, still causing problems.

    If radiation counter measures were taken, there could be strong evidence to explain clusters of disease.

    There are real question here. The fact that military personal have to obey orders does not imply that officers can issue any order or ignore what ever conditions they choose.

  15. Why does everyone fall for these scare stories over and over again? It seems that all you have to do is use the word ‘radiation’ and people are willing, even eager, the believe anything.

    As I said above, unless there were special circumstances then it is unlikely that any US personnel were exposed to more than negligible radiation. Hardly anyone at all was exposed to radiation that could potentially be harmful.

    Here’s a good article that explains how living near a coal power plant is more dangerous than having been in the Fukushima disaster.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/16/nuclear-scare-stories-coal-industry

  16. Dan,

    Throw out the Price/Anderson Act in the US & we’ll all see together if the nuke Kook industry can stand on it’s own.

    And yes, I’m not a fan of the mountain top removal/SO2/Arsenic/Mercury poisoning from coal fired central command operated coal plants.

  17. OKy1
    What do we replace the NPPs with?
    When should we decide to give alt energy a try ?

    I have yet to see a wind farm poison the land sea and air for generations … Unlike NPPs do regularly .

    We will decide to act far too late, as usual because we Americans prefer to be the leader of death world wide.

    Atoms for peace?
    Nope, just atoms of death!

    Maybe we can frack our way to successful pollution?

  18. Dan,
    Are you suggesting that there are safe levels of radiation?
    How much tritium will you allow your family to drink?
    Yes, coal is deadly too… So are suggesting that a death by a thousand paper cuts is a preferable way to die?

  19. **When should we decide to give alt energy a try ?**

    Max,

    The old sick joke from the current energy companies/polecats is that “Alternative Energy is the Wave of the Future” & under their breath they add: And that’s exactly where we intend to keep it, in the future!

    All the tax payer funds go to those aholes & is wasted on worthless projects.

    ie:

    Monsanto’s GMO corn subsidies for ethanol.

    Massive destruction of habitat for Palm Oil Plantations,

    And oh ya, phking Fracking & it’s destruction of potable water.

    Many people don’t believe in God or Satan, but if there is a Satan he would have put together an energy policy that looks just like the one we currently have in the USA.

    Yet currently people can put together their own onsite electrical generation/storage.

  20. “Why does everyone fall for these scare stories over and over again? It seems that all you have to do is use the word ‘radiation’ and people are willing, even eager, the believe anything.”

    Of course, the claim here is that we have a cluster of disease wildly atypical for the young, fit population where it occurred.

    It seems that all you have to do is mention the hypothesis of radiation poisoning and deniers are ready to explain that it could not possibly happen.

    We have a cluster of disease that ought to be examined. Epidemiology, personal medical records, and possibly military records ought to lead to reasonable belief regarding the issue of contamination and medical effects.

    ” Hardly anyone at all was exposed to radiation that could potentially be harmful.”

    On the contrary, we have solid evidence that management under reported the release of radiation. My recollection is that US embassy advised US citizens to evacuate far beyond the area claimed safe by Japanese officials. Isn’t true that large areas deemed safe at the time of the accident have been abandoned until they can be decontaminated – if that is possible, it that ever occurs?

    Even the circumlocution ” radiation that could potentially be harmful” is misleading.

    To steal a line ” EPA makes the conservative (cautious) assumption that any increase in radiation exposure is accompanied by an increased risk of stochastic effects.”

    There is no step function for radiation, no amount so small that it has no effect. Radiation is harmful. Introduce radiation to a population and there will be disease. Introduce more radiation and there will be more disease.

  21. The USS Reagan (CVN76) whether in port, at sea or in shipyard has radiation controls division personnel aboard at all times. The radiation controls division’s sole purpose is to monitor ship board areas/air in search of radioactive contamination. There are also sailors aboard that are responsible for the operation of the two nuclear reactors which are used to make steam that provide the ship with it’s main form of propulsion, these folks are also aboard at all times.

    The Reagan also has multiple automated chemical, biological and radiological sensors aboard both internally/externally placed which would have alarmed and alerted the crew to the presence of any radioactivity.

    Also the US government (etal) has satellite data which would have shown the direction the radioactive plumes were blowing and the types/levels of isotopes being released in real-time from the damaged reactors at Fukushima.

    Anti-contamination clothing and the use of respirators/air-packs will help keep alpha/beta particles from harming you but but there is no form of protective clothing that would adequately protect sailors from radioactive contamination containing gama/neutron particles as they are both sources of whole-body penetrating radiation which may even have been able to penetrate through Reagan’s flight deck and hull.

    There is absolutely no reason the sailors aboard the Reagan didn’t know they were operating in a highly contaminated area with known sources of whole-body penetrating radiation present.

  22. I’m not against nuclear power per se but one should never underestimate the dangers of radiation. We came close to losing the planet in the sixties from widespread nuclear testing in the atmosphere. Hubbard stepped in, as he always did when he found a subject dangerously mismanaged by mankind in general, & did his own research to benefit the common man & society in general.. A smart man would read him; an ignorant putz would natter instead.

  23. Dan

    The mere statistics of the injuries of these sailors compared with time and the number of personnel in the US navy will certainly, from a standard required to prove liability in a civil court, point strongly the sailors contracted these pathologies as a result of their time spent in service after the disaster.

    The US government has nearly boundless statistics about radiation sicknesses and effects along with current medical knowlege and examples from nuclear accidents and their effect on human physiology.

    The plaintifs could show that each of the diseases they suffered are consistent with radiation exposure, that there were greatly elevated numbers of their peers (70 or so) when compared to the general population, and to the period a year prior where the same cancer and illness rates among carrier personnel in general and matched with the expected development of cancer after an incubation period that is consistent with radiation levels of the type of isotopes and elements that were found to have been released by the plant. Couple this with the gross negligence and recklessness of the plant operators to define who was responsible it can make for a very solid case .

  24. The drinking water on the ship was contaminated…
    … Desalination of ocean water contaminated with cesium, tritium and potentially plutonium.

  25. Pretty shocking stuff and if it was ever in the MSM, I never saw it on the 6pm news – might have been there but couldn’t have had much air time.

  26. http://nypost.com/2013/12/22/70-navy-sailors-left-sickened-by-radiation-after-japan-rescue/

    Navy sailor Lindsay Cooper knew something was wrong when billows of metallic-tasting snow began drifting over USS Ronald Reagan.

    “I was standing on the flight deck, and we felt this warm gust of air, and, suddenly, it was snowing,” Cooper recalled of the day in March 2011 when she and scores of crewmates watched a sudden storm blow toward them from the tsunami-torn coast of Fukushima, Japan.

    The tall 24-year-old with a winning smile didn’t know it then, but the snow was caused by the freezing Pacific air mixing with a plume of radioactive steam from the city’s shattered nuclear reactor.

    Now, nearly three years after their deployment on a humanitarian mission to Japan’s ravaged coast, Cooper and scores of her fellow crew members on the aircraft carrier and a half-dozen other support ships are battling cancers, thyroid disease, uterine bleeding and other ailments.

    “We joked about it: ‘Hey, it’s radioactive snow!’ ” Cooper recalled. “I took pictures and video.”

    But now “my thyroid is so out of whack that I can lose 60 to 70 pounds in one month and then gain it back the next,” said Cooper, fighting tears. “My menstrual cycle lasts for six months at a time, and I cannot get pregnant. It’s ruined me.”

    The fallout of those four days spent off the Fukushima coast has been tragic to many of the 5,000 sailors who were there.

    At least 70 have been stricken with some form of radiation sickness, and of those, “at least half . . . are suffering from some form of cancer,” their lawyer, Paul Garner, told The Post Saturday.

    “We’re seeing leukemia, testicular cancer and unremitting gynecological bleeding requiring transfusions and other intervention,” said Garner, who is representing 51 crew members suing the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant.

    “Then you have thyroid polyps, other thyroid diseases,” added Garner, who plans to file an amended lawsuit in federal court in San Diego next month that will bring the number of plaintiffs past 70.

    Senior Chief Michael Sebourn, a radiation-decontamination officer, was assigned to test the aircraft carrier for radiation.

    The levels were incredibly dangerous and at one point, the radiation in the air measured 300 times higher than what was considered safe, Sebourn told The Post.

    The former personal trainer has suffered a series of ailments, starting with severe nosebleeds and headaches and continuing with debilitating weakness.

    He says he has lost 60 percent of the power in the right side of his body and his limbs have visibly shrunk.

    “I’ve had four MRIs, and I’ve been to 20 doctors,” he said. “No one can figure out what is wrong.”

    He has since retired from the Navy after 17 years of service.

    Even as the Reagan was steaming toward the disaster, power-company officials knew the cloud of steam they were releasing — in order to relieve pressure in the crippled plant — was toxic, the lawsuit argues, a claim that has also been made by the Japanese government.

    Tokyo Electric Power also knew that radioactivity was leaking at a rate of 400 tons a day into the North Pacific, according to the lawsuit and Japanese officials.

    “We were probably floating in contaminated water without knowing it for a day and a half before we got hit by that plume,” said Cooper, whose career as a third-class petty officer ended five months after the disaster for health reasons.

    The toxic seawater was sucked into the ship’s desalinization system, flowing out of its faucets and showers — still radioactive — and into the crew member’s bodies.

    “All I drink is water. You stay hydrated on that boat,” said Cooper, who worked up to 18 hours at a time on the flight deck loading supplies onto a steady stream of aid helicopters for four days, all the while drinking out of the two-gallon pouch of water hooked to her gear belt.

    By the time the Reagan realized it was contaminated and tried to shift location, the radioactive plume had spread too far to be quickly outrun.

    “We have a multimillion-dollar radiation-detection system, but . . . it takes time to be set up and activated,” Cooper said.

    “And then we couldn’t go anywhere. Japan didn’t want us in port, Korea didn’t want us, Guam turned us away. We floated in the water for two and a half months,” until Thailand took them in, she said.

    All the while crew members had been suffering from excruciating diarrhea.

    “People were s- -tting themselves in the hallways,” Cooper recalled.

    “Two weeks after that, my lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. By July, my thyroid shut down.”

    Cooper, the single mother of a 4-year-old girl named Serenity, says her biggest worry is that she will get cancer. Her own mother died recently of breast cancer at age 53.

    “This isn’t about financial gain,” Cooper said of the lawsuit. “This is about what’s going to happen while I’m sick, and then after I’m gone.”

    “I worry,” she added, her voice choking, “because I have a daughter. And I’m so sick.”

  27. Oky1
    You know BP and EXXON hate Germany right now…
    … “How dare those Germans show the world how to ween themselves from our teats.

  28. Thanks, I will look at this. I hate to think that the only way to get the news is to link to every social media outlet for every government agency and NGO.

    This situation seems to raise so many question.

    Even if one assumes that military personnel are completely expendable, which I do not, this seems to raise questions regarding command.

    If nothing else, what military unit would deploy to the vicinity of a nuclear melt down and fail to activate radiation sensors?

    We don’t know all the facts, but that would seem to be an unforced error.

    And it is not just the health of individual sailors at stake. It is easy to imagine a situation in which combat effectiveness might have been compromised.

    It is sad to think that casualties might have been limited and combat effectiveness preserved by nothing more than plain dumb luck.

  29. Bigfatmike:

    We can never fully understand or trust the military leadership given past history. I will stipulate there are many ethical and upstanding individuals but the organization as a whole has a terrible record with soldiers’ health.

    My father-in-law tells a completely fitting story to this. While in the Marine Corps in the 50’s he and his unit were marched outdoors and they formed up facing a priest standing on a platform. The priest held aloft a Bible and in a sermon like voice declared “I have seen the miracle in the desert…If you too want to see the miracle in the desert take two steps forward.”

    Well my father-in-law and another guy were suspicious, they looked at each other and took two steps backward. The rest of the “volunteers” were transported out and became guinea pigs for some nuke test. He found out later that many of them ended up getting radiation disease.

    So he adopted the philosophy of “Never trust management.”

  30. Darren,
    Just dug your comment out of the spam filter. What’s the deal with all the spams that are hundreds of lines long? Many of them are nothing but masses of links to marketing sites. SEO groups trying to get their numbers up?

    The extreme length of most of the recent spams makes it hard to find recent legitimate comments.

  31. Does the Feres Doctrine include the non-military spouses and children of service members? They, too, use military hospitals and military-provided amenities.

  32. I think the military needs to figure out a way to make this go away…. I’m thinking that this is an international disaster waiting to happen….. I would not be surprised if the harm to be expected was actually known…. This is kinda like a newer version of agent orange….

  33. bigfatmike
    It is a sad situation… The lack of honest journalism in America. Most of it is corporate or Governmental talking points to protect their interests. Check out the special relationships listed in the NRC.gov link. From the horse itself.

    As for the command issue… It is difficult to give proper orders of protection when information from TEPCO was withheld from the Japanese government. Thus, lack of relayed info to the US Gov. That’s the essence of the law suit. Corporate/government relationships.

  34. BFM, “If nothing else, what military unit would deploy to the vicinity of a nuclear melt down and fail to activate radiation sensors?”

    That is the question.

  35. one thought on this, brain cancer and testicular cancer, from what I understand, are slow growing. Would 18 months to 2 years be enough time for them to present symptoms?

  36. @Bron “one thought on this, brain cancer and testicular cancer, from what I understand, are slow growing. Would 18 months to 2 years be enough time for them to present symptoms?”

    That is a relevant and interesting point.

    Any incident like this raises questions regarding which cases would have occurred under any circumstances and which cases reasonably are associated with the event.

    I am pretty sure we can look forward to years of investigation by scores of statisticians, epidemiologists, oncologists and other specialists.

    Somebody is going to be making lots of money – just not the people who have been hurt, not for years anyway

  37. I wonder how many former soldiers of the 84th Engr. Bn., Schofield Bks. Hi are still alive after scraping radioactive soil off the Enewetak Atoll in 1976……OOOOOh, nobody knew about that…..

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