After a judge dismissed their initial suit, 79 veterans from the USS Ronald Reagan have filed a new class action suit against Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). The new $1 billion class action claims that the crew were not informed about the radiation exposure from the meltdown at the plant before they conducted relief operations, called Operation Tomodachi, in the region during the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
The new suit now includes the infant child, born with a rare genetic defect, of one of the sailors who served aboard the USS Reagan. Another new plaintiff is an American teenager who lived near Fukushima. They are also leaving the suit open for “up to 70,000 U.S. citizens [who were] potentially affected by the radiation and will be able to join the class action suit.” Filed in a federal court in San Diego last February 6, the amended suit claims that TEPCO failed to inform them that the $4.3 billion nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was exposed to heavy doses of radiation due to the three meltdowns and four explosions at the Fukushima plant. The 1,092 feet long vessel, which carried around 5,000 soldiers and 80 aircraft, was almost a mile offshore and sailed through nuclear plumes about 100 miles offshore for around five hours. They were told that the radiation from the plant was not enough for concern, although they could not say exactly how much was released and where it went.
The soldiers ailments after Operation Tomodachi included leukemia, ulcers, testicular cancer, reproductive problems and other ailments that should not be present in young, healthy adults. They claim that the illnesses are similar to those who were exposed to other nuclear-related incidents, like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and Chernobyl in 1986. A US federal court dismissed their case in December 2013 on the grounds that the judge believed it was beyond her authority to determine if TEPCO and the Japanese government committed fraud against them by saying the radiation levels were negligible.
TEPCO has recently admitted that they underestimated the reading of the radiation levels in the groundwater the past few months at the plant because of malfunctions in their reading equipment. There have also been reports of eight more cases of thyroid cancer in children who were leaving near the crippled plant. The USS Reagan is now docked in San Diego and the safety of such an irradiated vessel has been the source of much debate in the US. Critics are saying it should be sunk as it is too radioactive to return to operation or even to scrap.
[ via Huffington Post ]
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