USS Ronald Reagan
U.S. Navy
The USS Ronald Reagan.

After Japan was pummeled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the U.S. Navy sent the USS Ronald Reagan to deliver aid. The ship unwittingly sailed straight into a plume of radioactive pollution from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was melting down. Now at least 71 of those sailors are seriously ill.

The sailors are suing the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, owner and operator of the plant, alleging that it downplayed the dangers of the radioactivity — radioactivity they say has left them riddled with cancers, thyroid problems, and other ailments. From Environment News Service:

The sailors’ lawsuit alleges that TEPCO officials knew how serious the radiation leak was and knew that American troops were heading to Japan to offer relief, but did nothing to warn them of what they were sailing into. …

According to the lawsuit, radiation experts who assisted in the decontamination say the USS Ronald Reagan sailed straight into a plume of radioactivity, which entered the ship’s water supply. Crew members washed, brushed their teeth and drank potentially contaminated water.

The lawsuit claims active duty and former sailors are suffering from cancer, blindness, impotence, and fatigue as a result of the radiation exposure. They are suing TEPCO for unspecified damages.

Meanwhile, a former Fukushima cleanup worker is alleging that cost-cutting measures employed after the meltdown led to leaks of radioactive water — measures such as the use of duct tape to cover metal cracks, and the use of just four bolts in places where there should have been eight. What is this – California?