A United States federal judge based in San Diego, California has thrown out a lawsuit against the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, alleging that U.S. sailors were exposed to dangerous radiation during the time when they responded to and helped out immediately after the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Judge Janis L. Sammartino dismissed the case due to a jurisdictional issue, but the lawyers representing the U.S. military personnel from the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan says that there is room for a follow-on lawsuit, and that they will indeed refile.
The judge dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 26 on grounds that it was beyond her authority to determine whether the operator and Japanese government had committed fraud against the American military and government by saying that the amount of radiation was negligible. The defendant in the December 2012 case was Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), embattled operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. The lawsuit claimed that the power company’s officials lied about the amount of radiation leaking from the molten-down reactors of the plant, with the Japanese central government complicit in the lie. The U.S. personnel said that it was that information that was used by the U.S> Navy to calculate their operational safety, and the health risk on the sailors in the relief effort.
Most of the people named in the lawsuit were deckhands who cleaned up and decontaminated the flight deck of the massive U.S. aircraft carrier. Paul Garner, lead counsel for the case, said that the sailors’ ailments range from rectal bleeding and other gastrointestinal trouble, headaches, hair loss and fatigue – all due to the amount of radiation they were exposed to in their relief and rescue operations. Some have even had thyroid and gallbladder cancer, even if most are in their 20s. Garner said that he will be refiling the case, but this time minus the charges against the Japanese government. At the moment the case was dismissed, the number of plaintiffs was at 51 people. Garner said he will have 20 more complainants when he refiles.
[via UT San Diego]
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