The initial reporting on these lawsuits was very light on detail. Most had referred to the Tomodochi radiation registry that claims uniform low exposures of all US service people. The general atmospheric radiation levels found on the USS Ronald Reagan on March 13th were higher than expected but not immediately dangerous. As with many things this is only part of the story. As more information has come out it does appear there is much more to the story.
Tomodochi Registry The registry did “on paper” estimates of human exposure using environmental radiation readings for various locations then applied generic doses to anyone in that location. The registry does not include any exposures out to sea such as those on the Reagan. The registry supporting information makes a vague mention of some actual human scans but does not document how or if those were included at all in the registry estimates.
These generic exposure doses are so problematic, in real life no two people have the same series of events during the exposure time frame. One could be in an office while another is in the same geographic area but is handling highly radioactive equipment from elsewhere or is outside for a prolonged period of time without proper protective gear.
Individual Narratives Details from the personal accounts of those who have joined the lawsuit prove this. Some were doing individual tasks that caused them more exposure than is recorded by the environmental levels.
Maurice Enis was stationed on the Ronald Reagan. He was tasked with taking down the US flag that flew atop the ship for two weeks while the worst of the plume blew past. Enis wrestled the flag in the wind as he folded it then tucked it under his arm to take it away. Later he set off radiation detectors on the ship. His handling of the flag contaminated his hands and side. This required three decontamination scrub downs with abrasive cleaner in an attempt to lower his radiation levels. He mentioned at a recent press conference in NYC that he was later scanned by medical staff and told he would have follow up checks. Those checks never happened and now the department of defense has lost both his paper and digital medical records of the incident.
Jaime Plym in her statements during the NYC press conference said they were constantly re-determining the ships course trying to avoid the plume. She was told not to inform other crew members of the radiation issue. Plym spent a considerable amount of time on the flight deck as part of her duties. Enis also told at the same press conference that officers and helicopter crews were given protective iodine but the remaining crew was not including those working on the flight deck.
Jennifer Micke recalls being on the flight deck in radiation suits but no respirators or masks. She said access to the flight deck was restricted to only those who had to be up there. When they left they had to remove protective boots that were then decontaminated and disposed of. The jets taking off and landing were coming from the highly contaminated areas. Each time aircraft takes off or lands would create an opportunity for dust and contamination to be made airborne and potentially inhaled.
Michael Sebourn was changing air filters and radiators on helicopters flying in and out of the evacuation zone. Each trip required removal of this equipment and replacement with new parts due to the high accumulated radiation. Anything that could absorb radiation became contaminated. They had a growing stockpile of barrels containing radioactive helicopter parts and protective suits.
All of these people have become ill since their exposures in different manifestations. Each of them tells a different story about how they were exposed to excessive radiation in unique ways. Those on the Reagan that have spoken to the media said radiation control and information on the ship was haphazard. The environmental levels of radiation in the atmosphere were not the only ways people were exposed. The US military has absolved themselves of further investigation into the issue or help for those exposed.
Compounding this problem is the issue of health coverage. In the US without any sort of national health care program those leaving the military find themselves without access to health care even if they are sick. Obtaining veteran’s benefits and access to veteran’s hospitals and clinics for service connected injuries can be a years long process leaving people without any health care access.
100 other people are now in the process of joining this US based lawsuit against TEPCO.
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