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Fri Dec 28, 2012, 03:41 AM

US sailors sue Japan's TEPCO for post-quake radiation exposure

Source: NBC News

A group of U.S. Navy personnel involved in the humanitarian effort after Japan's March 2011 earthquake and tsunami have filed a lawsuit against the Tokyo Electric Power Co. for more than $200 million in compensation, punitive damages and future medical costs for exposure to radiation that leaked from the damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant at the time.

The plaintiffs include eight troops serving on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier — one of whom was pregnant at the time of the alleged exposure — and her daughter.

They charge that the utility, known as TEPCO, "knowingly and negligently caused, permitted and allowed misleading information concerning the true condition of the (plant) to be disseminated to the public, including the U.S. Navy Department," according to the complaint filed on Dec. 21 in a U.S. federal court in San Diego.

The plaintiffs are suffering a variety of symptoms that attorney Paul Garner says were caused by the exposure, including rectal bleeding, thyroid problems and persistent migraine headaches, and all face an increased chance of developing cancer and requiring expensive medical procedures.

<snip>

Read more: http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/27/16197507-us-sailors-sue-japans-tepco-for-post-quake-radiation-exposure?lite



The nuclear industry spin-machine will go into high gear over this.

This is a major story being covered by the Wall Street Journal, BBC, Japan Times, etc.

Be prepared for an onslaught of anti-science pro-nuclear PR.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 03:46 AM

1. The Japanese government was "lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdown" crisis

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121228a3.html

Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

Eight U.S. sailors sue Tepco for millions for falsely downplaying Fukushima radiation exposure

Bloomberg

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is being sued for tens of millions of dollars by eight U.S. Navy sailors who claim that they were unwittingly exposed to radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns and that Tepco lied about the dangers.

<snip>

Tepco and the Japanese government conspired to create the false impression that radiation leaking from the Fukushima No. 1 plant didn't pose a threat to the sailors, according to the complaint. As a result, the plaintiffs rushed to areas that were unsafe and too close to the facility, exposing them to radiation, their lawyers said.

The Japanese government was "lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdown" crisis, as it reassured the USS Reagan crew that "everything is under control," the plaintiffs' lawyers said in the complaint. "The plaintiffs must now endure a lifetime of radiation poisoning and suffering."

The sailors are each seeking $10 million in damages, $30 million in punitive damages and a judgment requiring the creation of a $100 million fund to pay for their medical monitoring and treatments.

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 03:50 AM

2. U.S. Sailors File Suit Against Fukushima Nuclear-Plant Operator

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/12/28/u-s-sailors-file-suit-against-fukushima-nuclear-plant-operator/

December 28, 2012, 12:19 PM

U.S. Sailors File Suit Against Fukushima Nuclear-Plant Operator


Alexander Tidd/U.S. Navy/Getty Images
A U.S. sailor scrubs the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to remove potential radiation contamination on March 23, 2011 while operating off the coast of Japan during Operation Tomodachi.


Eight U.S. Navy sailors who took part in rescue operations following last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan filed a damages suit last week against Tokyo Electric Power Co. , the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, for not revealing dangerous levels of radiation. The sailors claim Tepco failed “in reckless disregard” to properly inform them of the actual radiation contamination levels, giving them a “false sense of security,” according to the suit filed in a California federal court.

The group is seeking $10 million in compensation and $30 million in punitive damages for fraud, failure to warn them of the health risks, for the plant’s defective safety designs, deceptive business practices and public nuisance. The group also wants the company to create a $100 million fund to cover their medical costs.

<snip>

The eight sailors with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan were dispatched as part of a large-scale tsunami relief effort called “Operation Tomodachi.” The six-week operation ultimately included 20 ships and nearly 20,000 personnel. One of the eight sailors also named her daughter, born seven months after the March 11 disasters, as a plaintiff in the suit.

The suit says Tepco and the government “conspired and acted in concert” to create an “illusory impression” that the extent of the radiation that leaked from the plant was at levels that wouldn’t pose a threat so as to promote the company’s interests and those of the government.

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 03:56 AM

3. Photo: Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan wash down the flight deck ...

This photo is in the NBC article in the OP:


Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan wash down the flight deck to remove potential radiation contamination while operating off the coast of Japan providing humanitarian assistance in support of Operation Tomodachi on March 22, 2011.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 04:03 AM

4. When contacted by the BBC, Tepco acknowledged that it has been sued, ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20856051

27 December 2012 Last updated at 22:13 ET

Japan's Tepco sued by US sailors over radiation

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), owner of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has been sued by eight US sailors over radiation exposure.

They claim that Tepco lied about the threat posed by the leaks after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant.

<snip>

When contacted by the BBC, Tepco acknowledged that it has been sued, but said that it had not received the actual complaint and so was not in a position to comment.

The lawsuit is the latest setback for Tepco which is already facing billions of dollars in compensation claims.

<snip>

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 04:26 AM

5. pdf of the lawsuit

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 04:57 AM

6. This should be an interesting case

 

TEPCO can easily argure that the sailors were exposed to raditation in the normal course of thier duties while in the Navy. The carrier they were on is nuclear powered and the carrier is also capable of carrying nuclear weapons were they could have also been exposed. The sailors are going to have to first prove they were not exposed to any raidation in the Navy prior to arriving in Japan.

It is going to be interesting how it all plays out.

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Response to Resonance_Chamber (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 07:09 AM

7. I'm not sure that is true.

Since it has since been proven that the Japan reactors were indeed leaking high levels of radiation, I don't see why the sailors should have to prove anything - even that they are sick.

They were exposed to high levels that could be expected to cause illness and/or eventual cancer. All they need to prove is that they were assured that it was safe.

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Response to Resonance_Chamber (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 07:52 AM

8. All of that is kept track off and is in the records.

TLD's are required to be worn by anyone who works near the reactors. I doubt TEPCo. would even be stupid enough to ask for it, they would just end up getting more well earned shitty press.

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Response to aandegoons (Reply #8)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 08:11 AM

9. This is surface Navy were they don't issue TLD's to the entire crew

 

it is very likely they could have been exposed on the carrier and they did not even know it.

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Response to Resonance_Chamber (Reply #9)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:16 AM

10. Yes that is why I put near the reactors.

It would be foolish of them since the records kept at the deck of the ship would be much much much higher than anyone received near the reactor. Yes they would have kept a record of all exposure on the deck once the release of radiation was known if not before. It would in effect cause a landslide of outrage again at the incompetence of TEPCo.

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Response to Resonance_Chamber (Reply #6)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 03:16 PM

14. Doesn't the Navy have Nuclear radiation detectors? I don't blame them for

suing

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:19 AM

11. Strange

First, let me get this out of the way: TEPCO behaved reprehensibly throughout, from the planning they did for the site taking inadequate account of the true earthquake/tsunami hazards to almost every element of the disaster response. I won't weep for them is they get their butts kicked in court.

But the lawsuit and the lawyer's remarks are way over the top with respect to the severity of any exposures, the degree to which the US Navy was at the mercy of TEPCO for data on hazard levels, and the details of the carrier's deployment. Starting with the last part, the says, attorney Paul Garner says,


"The carrier was less than two football fields away from the Fukushima Daiichi when it released a cloud of radiation," said Garner, speaking to NBC News on Thursday.


I think this is physically impossible considering that the carrier itself is greater than "two football fields" in length, and contemporaneous news reports place the Reagan 100 miles offshore when radiation alarms sounded and led the Navy to move the ship. It's unlikely that the waters so close offshore would be deep enough to accommodate safe operations, and such an unusual way of operating a carrier could neither be concealed from the crew nor kept from being leaked in the media. I have no idea why Garner would say something so transparently foolish; it only detracts from his own credibility.

Clearly the Navy was capable of assessing the hazards associated with Fukushima's radioactive emissions - it was their own equipment that sounded the alarm in the first place, and TEPCO had no capability to monitor the plume out to sea. TEPCO is certainly responsible for the accident and deserves any blame attached to downplaying the hazards during the period in question, but the Navy knew that its mission of tsunami relief was complicated by the developing disaster at Fukushima, had the technical means to assess and respond to risks, and is chiefly responsible for the safety of the crew. If sailors were overexposed to radiation the Navy is more culpable (but may be harder to sue).

Finally, many of the specific health impacts to the plaintiffs claimed, apart from an elevation in long-term cancer risk, are not plausibly traceable to Fukushima radiation exposure. The lawsuit includes a grab bag of serious health consequences of radiation exposure that only occur at levels nobody in the plant itself experienced, let alone those experienced by someone tens of miles (or even a few hundred yards) away. There are about 5000 sailors on the Reagan (and more on other ships in its group); I don't think there's anything that particularly needs explaining if a handful of people out of a group that size, at some point over the course of any given 1.5 year period, develop the symptoms described. I'm sure their health problems are real, but none of them, as described, are plausible consequences of Fukushima radiation exposure, even if one accepts that radiation exposures were much higher than the Navy acknowledges and sufficient to cause radiation sickness. Taking them one by one:

rectal bleeding - This can accompany radiation exposure; apparently this can accompany radiation therapy for prostate cancer. But it isn't caused by radiation except at very high doses and it would be accompanied by many other symptoms. The person exposed would be very ill and quite likely not be alive today.

thyroid problems - Taking in iodine 131 can cause thyroid cancer, but there's a significant latency period, and the fact that they say "thyroid problems" rather than cancer suggests that they're talking about a different health issue

persistent migraine headaches - Acute radiation exposure at high levels can cause severe headaches, but these occur right away.

A few isolated symptoms experienced long after the exposure do not make a believable case for a causal relationship between the crew's exposure to Fukushima radiation and those symptoms, even if one accepts the unlikely claim that exposures were high enough to induce the acute radiation sickness with which those symptoms are associated. Had these sailors suffered such severe exposures they'd have experienced many other symptoms as well and needed immediate medical attention. Like the people of Japan, the Navy personnel do face an elevation of cancer risk, and the magnitude of that risk increase is hard to calculate precisely. It's not likely to be anything like a doubled risk of cancer but some fraction of a percent.

For that TEPCO surely deserves blame. But I also have the strong impression that this lawyer is mainly trying to make a buck off antipathy toward an admittedly repulsive company.

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Response to caraher (Reply #11)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 02:01 PM

13. It is good that they are filing suit now.

The VA certainly won't be helpful at this point for that particular exposure-

I and many others were exposed to significant doses of radition following Chernobyl. We were in Germany, when rains brought down radioactivity in Wuerzburg area - and to this day I can't get the VA to recognize the radioactivity hazard I and others were exposed to when we had to do morning PT in the wet grass laden with radioactive dew.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 12:41 PM

12. This is more proof as to why nuclear is not a viable means of power conversion.

But the new Japanese Romney is going to give it a kick start. Hooray for conservatives.

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