Sailors lend a hand to clean-up in Hachinohe, Japanvia Al Jazeera / December 16, 2013 / Fifty-one crew members of the USS Ronald Reagan say they are suffering from a variety of cancers as a direct result of their involvement in Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. rescue mission in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in March 2011. The affected sailors are suing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), alleging that the utility mishandled the crisis and did not adequately warn the crew of the risk of participating in the earthquake relief efforts.

Crew members, many of whom are in their 20s, have been diagnosed with conditions including thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and leukemia. The Department of Defense says the Navy took “proactive measures” in order to “mitigate the levels of Fukushima-related contamination on U.S. Navy ships and aircraft” and that crew members were not exposed to dangerous radiation levels.

Charles Bonner, attorney for the sailors, says the radiation the USS Ronald Reagan crew was exposed to extended beyond the tasks of Operation Tomodachi. Deployed ships desalinate their own water, so crew members were unknowingly drinking, cooking with, and bathing in contaminated water due to the ship’s close proximity to the disaster site, according to Bonner. The USS Reagan was ultimately informed of the contamination after a month of living approximately 10 miles offshore from the affected region.

The number of plaintiffs in the case could grow significantly as 150 additional crew members are currently being medically screened to join. The sailors are seeking $40 million each in punitive damages as well as a $1 billion fund for future medical expenses for members of the USS Reagan.

Attorney Charles Bonner discussed the case in an interview with the podcast Nuclear Hot Seat:

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By Broc West| 16 Comments | Featured, News


  1. This resulted from gross negligence by the ship’s command. Surely parking a carrier and its crew in an environment like that for one month would have considered the safety of the crew. Unbelievable.

  2. The NAVY should be held equally at fault for not insuring that they were not knowingly or otherwise intentionally putting their crewmen in harms way….they had the highest level of Nuclear Test equipment and information and yet placed their men into a deadly situation with full knowledge and forethought as did the Japanese Government and TEPCO and was a deliberate and heinous act by the US NAVY for which they should be held entirely responsible.

    • The USS Ronald Reagan is a nuclear powered carrier and as such has high-grade nuclear monitoring. There is no way that the sailors on board will have been at risk from radioactive contamination. The low level radioactivity, easily detected at the time, was completely removed.

      Operation Tomodachi was a relief mission in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. There were 24000 service personnel involved, to the great benefit of US-Japan relations.

      It’s amazing how people will suddenly start believing attorneys bringing cases if it conforms to their prejudices.

      • You again……. Let’s guess: there’s been none of your “nuclear is safe, nuclear is good, Japan’s Govt & Tepco are wonderful, Fukushima is just fine, etc” statements for a while……. so (guessing), you’ve been on site helping to clean up….. or perhaps digging a big hole in your backyard to help with storing the “waste” safely……. or out diving in the Pacific to catch fish for your perfectly safe sushi dinner????? No? Why not? Clearly you love everything nuclear, so why not get really involved…….. or why not just go away…… and for goodness sake STOP trolling.

      • this is so typical I have read false reports about the so called radiation from japan affecting USA and the Entire Pacific Ocean.the Nuclear energy people say All Nuclear Powerstations Routinely Dump radioactive water but it is all prejudice about Japanese. don’t forget USA dropped Two Atomic Bombs on Japan the Only Country in the World to Use Nuclear Weapons on Civilians and the US Govt Knew about Japan getting ready to Bomb Pearl Harbour and Allowed it to happen so that they could use the Bombs and get away with it.

  3. To all the Crewmen and Crewwomen of the USS Ronald Reagan, and their families: What has been done to you is beyond terrible. I wish you total success with your Law Suit. The whole world must recognise what your courage and selfless devotion to duty has done to you – the unthinkable price that you are paying – and that no soldier, anywhere, should be used and abused as you have been.

  4. Come on in, the water’s fine…the government told me so…

  5. How Many Crew Members on Board? why only the Young Members? Why Not the Older crew members or Captain and higher ranks surely they Showered in the same water and drank the same water ? and being a nuclear [powered ship then they would be able to test or monitor what the ship and crew where exposed to. did any of them work in New York after 9/11? were they deployed to other war zones or exposed to Depleted Uranium shells ? men who never go into nuclear zones get testicular cancer. tight underwear and eating lots of red meat can cause cancer the sun can be responsible for skin cancers Carcinoma. smoking can cause cancer,alcohol use can cause cancer..but a handful of people out of a huge crew get different problems and a lawyer thinks he can get paid to represent them without direct proof that each and everyone of the cancers were caused by their month in japan..

    • GRAHAM….
      Just shut up.
      You don’t have a clue so spewing at the mouth only makes you look like the troll that you are. The reason my kid spoke up was because that’s how I raised her. Regardless of gag orders, classified or not, speaking up was the right thing to do. Now…. if you can’t figure out why an older crew member (officer) didn’t go to the media or why they haven’t joined in on the suit……because they can ride on my daughters shirt tails. The only thing she stands to loose is her life. She doesn’t have a pension like the older guys and she hasn’t been brainwashed like them. And this money that the lawyers are making… what money? I haven’t paid them…not a penny. I assure you that none of the sailors have paid them. I’m the one who found Paul Garner from the very beginning. No one in their right mind would invest any amount of time into a case if they didn’t think there was something there. So troll somewhere else. You obviously don’t have a clue as to what really is going on.

      • Bravo …Sailors Dad. We need lots more people like you that care about others despite the machines.

    • Must be those darn trial lawyers. And they’re probably crackhead illegal immigrants
      on welfare too!
      What’s ‘Murka comin’ to?

      Jefferson Davis would not approve.

    • Graham, It is obvious that you were never fit for military duty and never served your country because of your total lack of understanding on the functioning of rank in the military. And I am not going to explain it to you fella. Sounds like you could use a ‘tour of duty’…join the Marines.
      Many of these sailors will be dying because of excessive amounts of radiation.

  6. How sadly apropos.
    The ship was named after Reagan–A President who screwed The people.
    Now, even his namesake ship is screwing our service-people.

    The US Military has a long history of negligence with nuclear radiation and The Troops.
    Just read some history.

  7. You only have to read parts of: ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’
    to understand the massive Japanese Government cover-up, the contaminated automobiles coming from Japan, contaminated food being shipped from Japan and the off the wall cancer increases within Japan. That society is on the verge of destruction if not radiation then the economy(don’t touch anything from Japan) the Japanese government will do what it can to save itself even if it means to export death through radiation.

  8. Some people?? If you think the government wouldn’t expose sailors to radiation in this instance your silly. The president gave a speech saying radiation would never reach a US territory and its here! Hmmm! Also TEPCO lied for 2 years until it wasn’t possible to continue the deception!!! Wake Up People!!!

  9. as a former US Navy sailor on a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, I would like to point out a few facts:

    the testing equipment on board that ship is unequaled. there is no way that extensive testing of the water they were desalinating and of the ship’s surfaces would NOT have been done. it would have been very easy and been done if for no other reason than to get new crew members qualified. the ship’s command would have had a VERY accurate idea of the level of exposure the ship was taking on

    that being said, it will come out from the sailors themselves if the information about high radiation were discovered and suppressed. There are extensive logs made, and it is almost certain that the sailors doing the counts made notes of their results, especially if they were getting high counts and it was being ignored

    when you hear from the sailors then you will have some reliable info. Until then, the word of a lawyer is about as good as the word of the ship’s command- biased and self-interested

    so, unless you were on that ship, at that time, you are not a reliable source of info, and you ought to consider doing something productive with your time rather than arguing about something you know little to nothing about

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