US sailors sue over Fukushima radiation exposure

Sara Reardon
New Scientist
March 22, 2013

Fukushima’s financial fallout is far from over. US military personnel and their families are seeking $2 billion in damages for illnesses they believe were caused by the nuclear plant’s meltdown. They allege that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, misrepresented the amount of radiation present when it accepted US military assistance to deal with the crisis.

Soldiers aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, which rerouted from Korea to assist after reactors at Fukushima went into meltdown in 2011, have filed a lawsuit against TEPCO in the District Court for the Southern District of California. So far, 24 people are claiming damages, but Paul Garner, a lawyer based in San Diego, California, who is representing the plaintiffs, says that the 70,000 US military personnel and families stationed in or near Japan at the time could be party to the suit if they wish.

The plaintiffs claim that the Fukushima radiation leak caused leukaemias, testicular cancer, vision problems and gynaecological bleeding, among other illnesses.
The source of this photo claims “Fukushima cancer risk slightly up for those exposed…” Are human beings really stupid enough to believe that???
“It seems like a pattern, a lot of cancers,” says Garner. TEPCO has not responded to New Scientist’s request for comment.
The Pentagon has put together an online registry to document radiation levels in Japan and surrounding areas where military staff might have been. According to the website, all the known levels are far too low to cause harm. That concurs with a recent World Health Organization assessment which found that infants in the immediate vicinity of the stricken plant may have a slightly increased risk of developing some cancers, but that the risk to adults is low.
David Brenner of Columbia University in New York says that although leukaemia can develop within a brief period after exposure to radiation, “at the doses of relevance here, one would not expect much else by way of health effects in the first two years”.
TEPCO’s legal issues don’t end there. Earlier this month, over 1600 residents from around the Fukushima area filed a lawsuit with Fukushima District Court, demanding compensation for psychological damage and displacement.
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Hey Obama? Let’s shut down coal plants and build these all over… preferably on a fault near you. Sound good? We can always bury the waste where we don’t have to worry about it until tomorrow.
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