A sailor who was part of the USS Ronald Reagan crew that responded at the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima disaster became sick months following the relief operations. Lt. j.g. Steve Simmons, once as healthy as a horse, has now become dependent on most of his activities for daily living. He believes that his health deterioration was caused by radiation exposure and contamination while serving in 2011 relief operations. However, medical professionals including the U.S. Department of Defense, could not provide any diagnosis. Without one, Simmons is unlikely to apply for any medical aid, despite his condition.
“We’ve never had any kind of health issues until he was exposed to radiation from Fukushima,” his wife Summer said. The couple has frequented the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for Steve’s treatments. He lost 30 percent of his muscle mass, causing him to lose the strength to stand on his own or take care of himself. “The muscle weakness has progressed to the point where he needs 24-hour care,” Summer said.
Other sailors have also been greatly affected by radiation contamination. “Their lives are at stake as well,” Simmons said. Some of them filed suit against TEPCO. Simmons is not one of them. According to his wife, they are not asking for much, but for the Navy to return the favor. “We’re asking them to step up and take care of those they put in harm’s way.” The couple is seeking to get a diagnosis for his condition. “Our biggest frustration is the lack of accountability,” the wife said. “The fact that nobody is willing to say this was a mistake, and it needs to be acknowledged.”
San Diego-based USS Ronald Reagan was the first ship to arrive and respond to Japan when an earthquake and tsunami took the lives of thousands of people. The aircraft carrier was also the first to deploy assistance when Fukushima Daiichi made history as one of its reactors suffered a meltdown. Although sailors were aware of the nature of their operation, some filed suit charging TEPCO of lying about the severity of radiation leaks at the facility. Simmons expressed his concern for other sailors who may have no idea about what hit them. There were more than 5,000 on board when USS Reagan reached Japan.
[via Deseret News]