In 2011, the USS Ronald Reagan was sent to provide emergency assistance to the people of Japan after the earthquake destroyed homes and triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. The crew was assured by both Tepco, the Japanese company which built the nuclear power plant on a fault line, and the US Navy, that there was nothing to fear.
The ship sailed for 5 hours through a nuclear plume which dosed its 5,500 member crew with an unknown level of radiation. The ship itself, for which we paid $ 6 BILLION, is considered so radioactive that it may be drydocked permanently or sunk.
In the intervening time the crew and their families have reported serious health issues far in excess of which could normally be expected of such a youthful sampling of the population: leukemia, ulcers, brain cancer, testicular cancer, uterine bleeding, intestinal ailments, blindness and birth defects. Former crew members comprise the first plaintiffs in a class action which could include 70,000 or more. Even Americans living on the West Coast of the U.S. may have claims for injuries resulting from Fukushima.
Currently the U.S. Government is joining Tepco in raising every technicality possible to prevent the suit from coming to trial. The nuclear industry may find it cheaper to buy a Congressional majority to legislate immunity than to face the repercussions associated with an open and public trial on the facts.
Interesting note, even though the Japanese Government denies that the ship could have been seriously irradiated, it has informed the US Navy that it does not want the ship to return to Japan, ever. It’s too dangerous.