(NaturalNews) At least 70 sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan are filing a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power, stating they have become sick with radiation-related illnesses, including cancer.
The crew was exposed to radioactive fallout in March of 2011 while deployed on a four-day rescue mission to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami compromised the nuclear power plant.
According to crew member Lindsay Cooper, radioactive snow fell on the ship after Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) deliberately released a cloud of radioactive steam from the power plant in order to relieve building pressure and prevent a meltdown.
The radiation plume mixed with freezing air over the Pacific Ocean, and created the snow, which dumped more than 400 tons of contaminated material into the ocean. At the time, the crew joked about it with each other, even snapping pictures of the memorable event.
As they swabbed the lethal snow from the flight deck, they joked about it amongst themselves. We're sweeping radioactive snow!
Soon, however, the crew wasn't laughing. Officers on board activated the ship's multimillion-dollar radiation detection system too late, and found that the surrounding ocean may have been contaminated for at least a day before the plume hit, infiltrating the ship's drinking water supply and poisoning it's crew.
The ship tried to put into port for decontamination, but was turned away from ports in Japan, Korea, and Guam due to the hazard it represented. The crew is estimated to have floated through contaminated waters for at least two and a half months before finally being allowed to put into port in Thailand.
Senior Chief Michael Sebourn, a radiation-decontamination officer assigned to the aircraft carrier, stated that at one point radiation levels measured 300 times higher than was considered safe.
All the while, crew members began to experience worrisome symptoms, including spontaneous, excruciating diarrhea and swollen lymph nodes. "Sailors were sh***ing themselves in the halls," according to Lindsay Cooper.
In her specific case, within two months her thyroid shut down. She was forced to end her military career due to health issues only five months after the disaster occurred. Lindsay explained that she would gain 60-70 pounds one month, then lose it the next. Additionally, her menstrual cycle lasts six months a time. "It's ruined me," she lamented.
Crew members are now beginning to experience serious long-term health issues due to their prolonged exposure to radiation. According to the crew's lawyer, Paul Garner, at least half of the 70 crew members listed in the lawsuit are suffering from various forms of cancer, including leukemia and testicular cancer.
Other crew members have listed other health issues such as gynecological problems, debilitating muscle weakness, headaches, severe nosebleeds, and more. The radiation-decontamination officer assigned to the aircraft carrier, Senior Chief Michael Sebourn told reporters that he has now lost 60 percent of the muscle strength on the right side of his body. MRIs and visits to at least 20 doctors have revealed no other possible cause for his condition. He has since retired from the Navy after serving 17 years.
While arguments have been made that the United States government and military officials knew that they were sending the crew into a dangerous and potentially deadly situation without warning the crew, the lawsuit currently names only the Tokyo Electric Power Company as a defendant.
Garner states this is because the crew feels that officials at the power company knew that the cloud of steam they were releasing was toxic. They were also aware that radioactive material was leaking at a rate of 400 tons per day into the North Pacific. The Japanese government has also made these claims.
Both the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan and their lawyer stated that while the lawsuit does ask for monetary damages, it is not being filed for financial gain. Instead, the service members need to be able to cover their extensive medical expenses and provide for the financial futures of their children in the event their illnesses prove fatal.
In Lindsay's case, her concern is for a four-year-old daughter, who will likely face life alone after her mother's untimely death.
Meanwhile, questions loom.
Why wasn't the Reagan's radiation detection system employed in time, especially under the obvious circumstances? What could possibly lead crew members to be so oblivious and unprepared? Where was the leadership aboard this vessel?
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