USS Ronald Reagan Crew Members Sick With Cancer Three Years After Fukushima Contamination [PHOTOS]

 @David_Kashi
on December 24 2013 6:50 AM
  • RTR2KBGC
    Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Ashton Hemphill scrubs the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a countermeasure wash down while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 23, 2011. Sailors scrubbed the external surfaces on the flight deck and island superstructure to remove potential radiation contamination. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Alexander Tidd
  • USS Ronald Reagan
    Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) scrub the flight deck to decontaminate it while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 23, 2011. Sailors scrubbed the external surfaces on the flight deck and island superstructure to remove potential radiation contamination. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Nicholas A. Groesch
  • USS Ronald Reagan
    Lance Cpl. Juan Olguin, from Lakewood, California, sprays the surface of an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Death Rattlers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a counter-measure wash down while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 23, 2011. Sailors scrubbed the external surfaces on the flight deck and island superstructure to remove potential radiation contamination. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Melissa Russell
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Nearly three years after the destruction of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, at least 70 U.S. Navy sailors who participated in relief efforts after the accident have been suffering from radiation sickness and even cancer as the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan was exposed to fallout.

“I was standing on the flight deck, and we felt this warm gust of air, and, suddenly, it was snowing,” sailor Lindsay Cooper told the New York Post in an interview published Monday. The metallic-tasting snow was caused by the freezing Pacific air that mixed with the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima power plant that was wrecked in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Fukushima was the world's worst nuclear disaster since the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine in 1986. Japanese utility crews are still struggling to contain radioactive water leaking from the plant into the Pacific Ocean. It has been estimated that some 300 tons of toxic water enter the ocean each day.

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

As a result of her exposure, Cooper is facing serious health problems.

“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. “My menstrual cycle lasts for six months at a time, and I cannot get pregnant. It’s ruined me.”

Ronald3 A counter-measure washdown is conducted on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to decontaminate the flight deck while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 23, 2011. Sailors scrubbed the external surfaces on the flight deck and island superstructure to remove potential radiation contamination.  REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Kyle Carlstrom

At least half of the 70 victims are suffering from some form of cancer, said Paul Garner, a lawyer representing 51 of the crew members.

“We’re seeing leukemia, testicular cancer and unremitting gynecological bleeding requiring transfusions and other intervention,” Garner said.

The lawyer is now suing Fukushima's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., for releasing a cloud of radioactive steam to relieve pressure on the plant, and dumping at least 400 tons of contaminated material a day into the North Pacific.

USS Ronald2 Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) monitor counter-measure system sprinklers during a wash down to decontaminate the flight deck while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 23, 2011. Sailors scrubbed the external surfaces on the flight deck and island superstructure to remove potential radiation contamination.  REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Josh Cassatt

“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.

By the time the Reagan's officers found out it was contaminated, the radioactive cloud had spread too far to get away.

“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.

USS Ronald Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct a counter-measure wash down on the flight deck to remove potential radiation contamination while operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi, March 22, 2011. Picture taken March 22, 2011.  REUTERS/Nicholas A. Groesch

When conducting radiation tests on the ship, Michael Sebourn, a radiation decontamination officer, found radiation to be 300 times higher than what was considered safe on the U.S. aircraft carrier.

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