Navy Sailors to Testify About Health Effects from Fukushima

Yahoo Contributor Network

On Monday, the second anniversary of the triple meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, two former Navy sailors plan to testify at a news conference at the New York Academy of Medicine. According to the Helen Caldicott Foundation, the sailors were directly exposed to Fukushima radiation on board the USS Ronald Reagan during the U.S. Navy's rescue effort. Here are the details.

* The two retired sailors, Maurice Enis and Jaime Plym, will discuss the 115-person lawsuit they have joined with other former and current military personnel against Tokyo Electric Power Company, for misleading U.S. officials about the extent of radiation released from the reactors.

* The news conference with the sailors will take place on Monday, the first day of the symposium.

* According to Roger Witherspoon, a freelance journalist and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Department of Defense has stopped updating a medical registry of nearly 70,000 American service members, civilian workers and their families that were in the region when the meltdown occurred.

* Not updating the registry means there will be no way to determine if patterns of health problems in those individuals emerge, Witherspoon reported.

* Participants of Operation Tomodachi -- the Japanese word for "friend" -- spend 80 days in a humanitarian aid and rescue mission in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, at the request of the Japanese government and coordinated by the U.S. State Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Departments of Defense and Energy.

* According to a lawsuit filed in December 2012 in the Southern California district of the U.S. District Court, the Tokyo Electric Power Company knew when it asked for the U.S. Navy personnel to perform humanitarian assistance that the radiation was at high levels and failed to provide the Navy with a warning of the actual increased level of risk.

* The plaintiffs also allege that the company made false and misleading statements about the levels "in order to promote its interests and those of the government of Japan, knowing that the information it disseminated was defective, incomplete and untrue" and that there were extraordinary risks posed to the plaintiffs carrying out their duties aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

* According to a September 2012 press release from the U.S. Department of Defense, "no Defense Department personnel or their families were exposed to radiation causing adverse health conditions following the nuclear accident in Japan" in 2011. However, the department established a registry for the 70,000 service members and their families, as well as Department of Defense civilians and contractors who were in Japan when the events occurred.

* The registry provides dosing estimates from 13 different locations. According to Dr. Paul Blake, a senior health physicist at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, dosimeters from 4,000 U.S. responders revealed radiation limits "significantly lower than the occupational limits that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission provides for this country."

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