US and Japan mutually agree to lie about Fukushima fallout

Trying to wash away radioactive contamination on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan

A stunning new report indicates the U.S. Navy knew that sailors from the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan took major radiation hits from the Fukushima atomic power plant after its meltdowns and explosions nearly three years ago.

If true, the revelations cast new light on the $1 billion lawsuit filed by the sailors against Tokyo Electric Power. Many of the sailors are already suffering devastating health impacts, but are being stonewalled by Tepco and the Navy.

The Reagan had joined several other U.S. ships in Operation Tomodachi (“Friendship”) to aid victims of the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami. Photographic evidence and first-person testimony confirms that on March 12, 2011 the ship was within two miles of Fukushima Dai’ichi as the reactors there began to melt and explode.

In the midst of a snow storm, deck hands were enveloped in a warm cloud that came with a metallic taste. Sailors testify that the Reagan’s 5,500-member crew was told over the ship’s intercom to avoid drinking or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea. The huge carrier quickly ceased its humanitarian efforts and sailed 100 miles out to sea, where newly published internal Navy communications confirm it was still taking serious doses of radioactive fallout.

Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.

Among the 81 plaintiffs in the federal class action are a sailor who was pregnant during the mission, and her “Baby A.G.,” born that October with multiple genetic mutations.

Officially, Tepco and the Navy say the dose levels were safe.

But a stunning new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo confirms that Naval officers communicated about what they knew to be the serious irradiation of the Reagan. Written by Kyle Cunningham and published in Japan Focus, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias” describes the interplay between the U.S. and Japanese governments as Fukushima devolved into disaster.

Cunningham writes that transcribed conversations obtained through the Freedom of Information Act feature naval officials who acknowledge that even while 100 miles away from Fukushima, the Reagan’s readings “compared to just normal background [are] about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out to sea.”

On the nuclear-powered carrier “all of our continuous monitors alarmed at the same level, at this value. And then we took portable air samples on the flight deck and got the same value,” the transcript says.

RTFA. Lots to read. If you’re as cynical as I there will be no surprises. That doesn’t reduce the anger that swells in my heart, contempt for the tame military and civilian bureaucrats who ignore the criminal damage done to those who depended on them for safe guidance.

Their shame must lead to official and public condemnation – and sincere efforts to remedy the harm.

Thanks, Mike

7 thoughts on “US and Japan mutually agree to lie about Fukushima fallout

  1. drugsandotherthings says:

    Hmm. I don’t have time to really research this atm- but the 30X line makes me have serious doubts. I may be wrong but my understanding was baseline levels at sea are somewhat below those on land. On a flight you receive 4X or so the normal terrestial level. 4X to 15x during a dental x-ray and 70X on a mammogram (and my understanding is that some older equipment is much higher). A ct scan on ones midsection is 800X. Smoking a pack a day is over 20X.

    People exposed by Chernobyl were 33,000X – which of over a half million most affected people resulted in about 4,000 fatal cancers above the normally expected 100,000.

    And for reference- the average daily terrestrial dose is somehere around 10 microsierverts. or 3650 a year. 100,000 (yearly) is the lowest level conclusively* linked to an incresed cancer risk. And radiation poisoining is somewhere around exposure at the 2 million level.

    And this may be cynical- but I have a hard time feeling compassion for anyone who signs onto a nuclear powered war machine that could itself wipe out considerable portions of many countries it visits. (we are talking about high explosives stored in close proximity to a nuclear reactor- not to mention the target potential).

    I am not a fan of nuclear energy. But like so many things it is a very, very complicated issue. The risk from an incredibly rare accident- like chernobyl or even freakier like fukushima is great. But is it any less damning then the problems caused by the likes of coal in the decades between such nuclear issues?

    And finally- I would guess there is much reluctance to discuss nuclear exposure by governments/corporations because radiation is a “third rail”. Something feared and completely lacking in understanding by the public.

  2. Update says:

    Fukushima at 4: New choices mired in old priorities Energy choices are not born of necessity, they are born of politics. It is a point often made by David Freeman {link}, once the Head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the vast, federally owned overseer of power generation and land management across six southern states. And it is a point driven home by the contrast, seen this week, of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe standing beside visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, discussing their energy and economic futures just days before the fourth anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which left almost 20,000 dead, hundreds of thousands homeless or displaced, and started one of the most dire and enduring environmental crises in a generation.
    …Failures at Daiichi were completely predictable, observed David Lochbaum, the director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Experts and engineers proposed many upgrades over many years, but recommendations were not heeded. “The only surprising thing about Fukushima,” said Lochbaum at a 2013 conference on the effects of the disaster, “is that no steps were taken.” That surprise should probably cross the Pacific. Twenty-one U.S. reactors, still officially in operation, mirror the design of the Fukushima BWRs, and many stand where they could be subject to earthquakes or tsunamis. Even without those seismic events, some U.S. plants are still at risk of Fukushima-like catastrophic flooding.

  3. Gomi no sensei says:

    More than a half-billion dollars of Japanese taxpayer money has been wasted in the struggle to contain and cleanup the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a government audit {link}.
    Japan’s Board of Audit reported that TEPCO, the company nominally in charge of the crippled facility, along with other construction and utility giants, had operated an insular and insufficiently transparent process that resulted in a lengthy list of massive expenditures on untested tactics and shoddy equipment.
    The biggest ticket failure was apparently a $270 million water decontamination system from French nuclear behemoth Areva. Designed to remove radioactive cesium from water gushing from Fukushima Daiichi’s three destroyed reactors, the machine was never fully operational, functioned only three months, and processed only 77,000 tons of liquid — in total — a minute fraction of the 300,000 tons of contaminated water flowing from the site (and into the sea) each day.
    An attempt to contain at least some of that water, a series of pipes and trenches filled with coolant that was to form an “ice wall,” turned out to be another of the cleanup’s dramatically costly and utterly ineffective schemes.

  4. Shikata ga nai says:

    First reliable estimates of highly radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by Fukushima disaster presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Boston (August 14, 2018) Part of the work was also recently published: Ikehara et al, Environmental Science & Technology, 52(11), (2018) 6390-6398, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06693. This press release contains additional material and comments.

  5. Update says:

    Is the US Government Abandoning Radiation-exposed Sailors?
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of some U.S. Navy sailors who claim they were poisoned by radiation during humanitarian relief efforts following the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan in 2011. The dismissal was not on the claims being made in the suit but on grounds of procedure and jurisdiction. The plaintiffs were using the U.S. court to sue General Electric (GE) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The dismissal found that California law could be applied to GE as the maker of the reactor but not against TEPCO under an exemption known as comity whereby U.S. law has limits in a foreign jurisdiction, in this case, residents of California suing under state law for events that occurred in Japan.
    The U.S. Navy submitted a report to Congress in 2014 which discounted the notion that radiation exposure was enough to cause health problems among the crew of the Ronald Reagan: See

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