The Irradiated Sailors of Fukushima


The roll call of US sailors irradiated while delivering humanitarian help near the stricken Fukushima nuke who say their health has been devastated continues to grow.

So many have come forward that the progress of their federal class action lawsuit has been delayed.

Bay area lawyer Charles Bonner says a re-filing will wait until early February to accommodate a constant influx of sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and other American ships.

Petitions in the sailors’ support are circulating worldwide at nukefree.org,MoveOnAvaazRoots Action and elsewhere.

Within a day of Fukushima One’s 3/11/2011 melt-down, American “first responders” were drenched in radioactive fallout. In the midst of a driving snow storm, sailors reported a cloud of warm air with a metallic taste that poured over the Reagan.

Then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, at the time a nuclear supporter, says “the first meltdown occurred 5 hours after the earthquake.” The lawsuit charges that Tokyo Electric Power thus knew large quantities of radiation were pouring into the air and water, but said nothing to the Navy or the public.

Had the Navy known, says Bonner, it could have moved its ships out of harm’s way. But some sailors actually jumped into the ocean just offshore to pull victims to safety. Others worked 18-hour shifts in the open air through a four-day mission, re-fueling and repairing helicopters, loading them with vital supplies, and much more. All were drinking and bathing in desalinated water that had been severely contaminated by radioactive fallout and runoff.

Then Reagan crew members were enveloped in a warm cloud. “Hey,” joked sailor Lindsay Cooper at the time. “It’s radioactive snow.”

The metallic taste that came with it parallels the ones reported by the airmen who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by Pennsylvania residents downwind from the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island.

When it did leave the Fukushima area, the Reagan was so radioactive it was refused port entry in Japan, South Korea and Guam. It’s currently docked in San Diego.

The Navy is not systematically monitoring the crew members’ health problemsBut Cooper now reports a damaged thyroid, disrupted menstrual cycle, wildly fluctuating body weight, and more. “It’s ruined me,” she says.

Similar complaints have surfaced among so many sailors from the Reagan and other US ships that Bonner says he’s being contact by new litigants “on a daily basis.”

Many are in their twenties, complaining of a terrible host of radiation-related diseases. They are legally barred from suing the US military. Tepco denies that any of their health problems could be related to radiation from Fukushima. The company also says the US has no jurisdiction in the case.

The suit was initially dismissed on jurisdictional grounds by federal Judge Janis S. Sammartino in San Diego. She was due to hear the re-filing January 6, but allowed the litigants another month to accommodate additional sailors.

Bonner says Tepco should be subject to US law because “they are doing business in America….Their second largest office outside of Tokyo is in Washington DC.”

Like the lawsuit, the petitions ask that Tepco admit responsibility, and establish a fund for the first responders to be administered by the US courts.

In 2013 to take control of the Fukushima site to guarantee the use of the best possible financial, scientific and engineering resources in the attempted clean-up.

The melted cores from Units One, Two and Three are still unaccounted for. Progress in bringing down Unit Four’s suspended fuel assemblies is murky at best. More than 11,000 “hot” rods are still scattered around a site where radiation levels remain high and some 300 tons of radioactive water still flow daily into the Pacific.

But with US support, Japan has imposed a state secrets act severely restricting reliable news reporting from the Fukushima site.

So now we all live in the same kind of dark that enveloped the USS Reagan while its crew was immersed in their mission of mercy.

Harvey Wasserman edits Nuke Free, where petitions in support of the USS Reagan crew members and their lawsuit now appear. 

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?
Barry Lando
Syria: Obama’s Bay of Pigs?
Karl Grossman
The Politics of Lyme Disease
Andre Vltchek
Southeast Asia “Forgets” About Western Terror
Jose Martinez
American Violence: Umpqua is “Routine”?
Vijay Prashad
Russian Gambit, Syrian Dilemma
Sam Smith
Why the Democrats are in Such a Mess
Uri Avnery
Nasser and Me
Andrew Levine
The Saints March In: The Donald and the Pope
Arun Gupta
The Refugee Crisis in America
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Elections and Verbal Vomit
Dan Glazebrook
Refugees Don’t Cause Fascism, Mr. Timmermann – You Do
Victor Grossman
Blood Moon Over Germany
Patrick Bond
Can World’s Worst Case of Inequality be Fixed by Pikettian Posturing?
Pete Dolack
Earning a Profit from Global Warming
B. R. Gowani
Was Gandhi Averse to Climax? A Psycho-Sexual Assessment of the Mahatma
Tom H. Hastings
Another Mass Murder
Anne Petermann
Activists Arrested at ArborGen GE Trees World Headquarters
Ben Debney
Zombies on a Runaway Train
Franklin Lamb
Confronting ‘Looting to Order’ and ‘Cultural Racketeering’ in Syria
Carl Finamore
Coming to San Francisco? Cra$h at My Pad
Ron Jacobs
Standing Naked: Bob Dylan and Jesus
Missy Comley Beattie
What Might Does To Right
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi Jayanti, Gandhi’s Dream
Raouf Halaby
A Week of Juxtapositions
Louis Proyect
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Iran
Christopher Washburn
Skeptik’s Lexicon
Charles R. Larson
Indonesia: Robbed, Raped, Abused
David Yearsley
Death Songs
Jon Hochschartner
Does Word Policing Actually Help the Left?