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Navy sailors have radiation sickness after Japan rescue

Posted by on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:28 AM
  • 12 Replies

Navy sailors have radiation sickness after Japan rescue

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Navy sailor Lindsay Cooper knew something was wrong when billows of metallic-tasting snow began drifting over USS Ronald Reagan.

“I was standing on the flight deck, and we felt this warm gust of air, and, suddenly, it was snowing,” Cooper recalled of the day in March 2011 when she and scores of crewmates watched a sudden storm blow toward them from the tsunami-torn coast of Fukushima, Japan.

The tall 24-year-old with a winning smile didn’t know it then, but the snow was caused by the freezing Pacific air mixing with a plume of radioactive steam from the city’s shattered nuclear reactor.

Now, nearly three years after their deployment on a humanitarian mission to Japan’s ravaged coast, Cooper and scores of her fellow crew members on the aircraft carrier and a half-dozen other support ships are battling cancers, thyroid disease, uterine bleeding and other ailments.

“We joked about it: ‘Hey, it’s radioactive snow!’ ” Cooper recalled. “I took pictures and video.”

But now “my thyroid is so out of whack that I can lose 60 to 70 pounds in one month and then gain it back the next,” said Cooper, fighting tears. “My menstrual cycle lasts for six months at a time, and I cannot get pregnant. It’s ruined me.”

The fallout of those four days spent off the Fukushima coast has been tragic to many of the 5,000 sailors who were there.

At least 70 have been stricken with some form of radiation sickness, and of those, “at least half . . . are suffering from some form of cancer,” their lawyer, Paul Garner, told The Post Saturday.

“We’re seeing leukemia, testicular cancer and unremitting gynecological bleeding requiring transfusions and other intervention,” said Garner, who is representing 51 crew members suing the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant.

“Then you have thyroid polyps, other thyroid diseases,” added Garner, who plans to file an amended lawsuit in federal court in San Diego next month that will bring the number of plaintiffs past 70.

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Smoke rises from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011 after it was hit by a tsunami.Photo: REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power Co./Handout

Senior Chief Michael Sebourn, a radiation-decontamination officer, was assigned to test the aircraft carrier for radiation.

The levels were incredibly dangerous and at one point, the radiation in the air measured 300 times higher than what was considered safe, Sebourn told The Post.

The former personal trainer has suffered a series of ailments, starting with severe nosebleeds and headaches and continuing with debilitating weakness.

He says he has lost 60 percent of the power in the right side of his body and his limbs have visibly shrunk.

“I’ve had four MRIs, and I’ve been to 20 doctors,” he said. “No one can figure out what is wrong.”

He has since retired from the Navy after 17 years of service.

Even as the Reagan was steaming toward the disaster, power-company officials knew the cloud of steam they were releasing — in order to relieve pressure in the crippled plant — was toxic, the lawsuit argues, a claim that has also been made by the Japanese government.

Tokyo Electric Power also knew that radioactivity was leaking at a rate of 400 tons a day into the North Pacific, according to the lawsuit and Japanese officials.

“We were probably floating in contaminated water without knowing it for a day and a half before we got hit by that plume,” said Cooper, whose career as a third-class petty officer ended five months after the disaster for health reasons.

The toxic seawater was sucked into the ship’s desalinization system, flowing out of its faucets and showers — still radioactive — and into the crew member’s bodies.

“All I drink is water. You stay hydrated on that boat,” said Cooper, who worked up to 18 hours at a time on the flight deck loading supplies onto a steady stream of aid helicopters for four days, all the while drinking out of the two-gallon pouch of water hooked to her gear belt.

By the time the Reagan realized it was contaminated and tried to shift location, the radioactive plume had spread too far to be quickly outrun.

“We have a multimillion-dollar radiation-detection system, but . . . it takes time to be set up and activated,” Cooper said.

“And then we couldn’t go anywhere. Japan didn’t want us in port, Korea didn’t want us, Guam turned us away. We floated in the water for two and a half months,” until Thailand took them in, she said.

All the while crew members had been suffering from excruciating diarrhea.

“People were s- -tting themselves in the hallways,” Cooper recalled.

“Two weeks after that, my lymph nodes in my neck were swollen. By July, my thyroid shut down.”

Cooper, the single mother of a 4-year-old girl named Serenity, says her biggest worry is that she will get cancer. Her own mother died recently of breast cancer at age 53.

“This isn’t about financial gain,” Cooper said of the lawsuit. “This is about what’s going to happen while I’m sick, and then after I’m gone.”

“I worry,” she added, her voice choking, “because I have a daughter. And I’m so sick.”

by on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:28 AM
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Replies (1-10):
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:43 AM

Radiation sickness is immediate, not three years out.

Early symptoms of radiation sickness*
 Mild exposure (1-2 Gy)Moderate exposure (2-6 Gy)Severe exposure (6-8 Gy)Very severe exposure (8-10 Gy or higher)
Nausea and vomitingWithin 6 hoursWithin 2 hoursWithin 1 hourWithin 10 minutes
Diarrhea--Within 8 hoursWithin 3 hoursWithin 1 hour
Headache--Within 24 hoursWithin 4 hoursWithin 2 hours
Fever--Within 3 hoursWithin 1 hourWithin 1 hour
Later symptoms of radiation sickness*
Dizziness and disorientation-- --Within 1 weekImmediate 
Weakness, fatigue Within 4 weeksWithin 1-4 weeksWithin 1 weekImmediate 
Hair loss, bloody vomit and stools, infections, poor wound healing, low blood pressure--Within 1-4 weeksWithin 1 weekImmediate

* Adapted from Radiation exposure and contamination. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals.

VooDooB
by weird cheese on Dec. 23, 2013 at 8:28 AM

I have to go to Tokyo for a week in May. I'm a little freaked out.

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Dec. 23, 2013 at 8:53 AM
1 mom liked this
70 people getting cancer out of 5,000 doesn't seem statistically out of the norm. Shenanigans.
DragonInfinity
by Member on Dec. 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM

 Thank God, I thought this was more recent!

.Bubbles.
by Silver Member on Dec. 23, 2013 at 10:46 AM
1 mom liked this
Unless thay can show that these people were more exposed than others their claims make no sense. Only 1.4% of the crew fell ill, and this is long after the fact. It looks like they arw trying to find something or someone to blame for their medical misfortune.
LilyRuiz213
by New Member on Dec. 23, 2013 at 10:56 AM
This is really upsetting :( my heart goes out to all the people affected.
LoveMyBoyK
by Ruby Member on Dec. 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM

OK, wait, so a country -- ANY country -- sends aid over to help with a disaster, the people who are coming to help get sick because of that disaster and the stupidity of the Japanese power company, and then Japan REFUSES to let the ship dock so the people who were coming to help them could get medical aid?  ASSHOLES!!!  Fuck them.  The next time Japan has a disaster, let them fucking swing in the wind. 

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:15 PM

It's the kindness and forgiveness I find exemplary at this 'goodwill to all men' time of year...

:/

Quoting LoveMyBoyK:

OK, wait, so a country -- ANY country -- sends aid over to help with a disaster, the people who are coming to help get sick because of that disaster and the stupidity of the Japanese power company, and then Japan REFUSES to let the ship dock so the people who were coming to help them could get medical aid?  ASSHOLES!!!  Fuck them.  The next time Japan has a disaster, let them fucking swing in the wind. 


LoveMyBoyK
by Ruby Member on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:17 PM

 I am not a "goodwill to all men" kind of person and never have been.  Go play with someone else. 

Quoting LindaClement:

It's the kindness and forgiveness I find exemplary at this 'goodwill to all men' time of year...

:/

Quoting LoveMyBoyK:

OK, wait, so a country -- ANY country -- sends aid over to help with a disaster, the people who are coming to help get sick because of that disaster and the stupidity of the Japanese power company, and then Japan REFUSES to let the ship dock so the people who were coming to help them could get medical aid?  ASSHOLES!!!  Fuck them.  The next time Japan has a disaster, let them fucking swing in the wind. 


 

\




"Rule of thumb is if it lets you carry it in a purse, it's not a dog; it's a proximity alarm that refuses to be housebroken." -- Cracked.com

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:19 PM

That's obvious.

I wonder how many people... and groups of people... have as much or more reason to treat people of the US the same way you'd like the US to treat others...

Quoting LoveMyBoyK:

 I am not a "goodwill to all men" kind of person and never have been.  Go play with someone else. 

Quoting LindaClement:

It's the kindness and forgiveness I find exemplary at this 'goodwill to all men' time of year...

:/

Quoting LoveMyBoyK:

OK, wait, so a country -- ANY country -- sends aid over to help with a disaster, the people who are coming to help get sick because of that disaster and the stupidity of the Japanese power company, and then Japan REFUSES to let the ship dock so the people who were coming to help them could get medical aid?  ASSHOLES!!!  Fuck them.  The next time Japan has a disaster, let them fucking swing in the wind. 




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