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US Navy Sailors Sue, Readings On Ships During Disaster

We mentioned previously how a group of sailors are suing TEPCO and the Japanese government for withholding information and lying to the public and the US Navy about the radiation levels near Fukushima Daiichi during the early days of the disaster.

FOIA releases from the NRC document some of the radiation levels and reporting from those early days that may have been part of the reason for the lawsuit. FOIA documents report a number of readings taken on the USS Ronald Reagan while it was 100 miles and 130 miles out to sea. These readings were taken March 13th according to NRC documents.

The readings are as follows all taken from the NRC transcripts:

1. 7.5 times 10 to the minus 9 th microcuries per milliliter. 100 miles out at 1300 March 13
2. Three times to the minus nine microcuries per milliliter. 100 miles out at 1430 March 13
3. 7.5. 100 miles out at 1700 March 13
4. 0.6 millirem per hour from beta gamma shine. 130 miles out time not specified March 13
5.  Shoes from helicopter crews 10,000 micro-microcuries per 100 square centimeters, or per frisk. 50 miles out (exposure) March 13
6.  Surface readings taken on the Reagan of the feet of people who had been on the SDF ship,  2500 counts per minute at 100 miles out no time given March 13

The frisk level #5 converted to becquerels would have been 370,000,000 bq/cm3. The Navy said it was 30 times normal levels. A “Mr. Mueller” in the NRC transcripts reported this regarding the levels found “And so we thought — we thought based on what we had heard on the reactors that we wouldn’t detect that level even at 25 miles. So it’s much greater than what we had thought. We didn’t think we would detect anything at 100 miles.” The NRC discussions also considered this to possibly be a thyroid risk to those on board.

The USS Ronald Reagan found 0.6 mR/hr from “gamma shine” 130 miles out to sea. This is about 6 uSv/hr  and appeared to be taken after they repositioned the ship further out to sea.

People who had briefly been on a Japanese SDF ship were found to have 2500 cpm readings on their feet when they were later checked on a US ship. Mr. Mueller states this in the NRC documents “The shoes were from helicopter crews that flew to a Japanese flag ship that is 50 miles closer to the power plant at sea, so it’s about — it’s about half way so it’s 50 miles from land as well, and it was near the center line of the plume.? So the levels on the Japanese ship would have likely been much higher than those on the Ronald Reagan.

It was also mentioned in the WIki entry that the USS George Washington left the port of the Yokosuka base after radiation levels there began to climb. “Radiation precautions were taken at U.S. bases, including USS George Washington leaving port at Yokosuka after very low levels of radiation were detected there. Part of its air complement moved to Misawa Air Base to support relief operations.[19] This little publicized document on the US military analysis of the radiation readings showed increased levels at Yokosuka during the early days of the disaster. Later reporting also showed the drinking water source was contaminated. 4500 families also left Yokosuka AFB at that time. The George Washington was in the middle of overhaul work and was partially disassembled. They completed the overhaul without a shipyard in another location.

This all may shed some light on the motivations of those who filed the suit and what they are basing it on.

Footnote: Japan’s government gave the US military SPEEDI data on March 14th, one day after the high levels were discovered on the USS Ronald Reagan

Note: Thanks to Jason for catching an error in our calculation of the radiation reading conversion for the Reagan’s readings. We discovered a glitch in our conversion calculator tool causing the final conversion factor to be off. The article has been updated with the corrected calculation. This article has been updated to correct a reading classified as an air reading that was actually a “frisk” reading and to add all of the readings found on the Reagan that were relayed to the NRC.

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