US sailors who ‘fell sick from Fukushima radiation’ allowed to sue Japan, nuclear plant operator — The Telegraph

” A US appeals court has ruled that hundreds of American navy personnel can pursue a compensation suit against the government of Japan and Tokyo Electric Power Co. for illnesses allegedly caused by exposure to radioactivity in the aftermath of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Thursday that the 318 sailors who have so far joined the $1 billion (£787 million) class action lawsuit do not need to file their case in Japan.

Most of the plaintiffs were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that was dispatched to waters off north-east Japan after the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant. Three reactors suffered catastrophic meltdowns and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere after their cooling units were destroyed by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a series of tsunami.

The plaintiffs claim that they were healthy and physically fit before they were exposed to the radiation plume, with some personnel reporting the air on the flight deck tasting “metallic”.

The California-based law firm representing the plaintiffs say they have been affected by a range of complaints, ranging from leukaemia to ulcers, brain cancer, brain tumours, testicular cancer, thyroid illnesses and stomach complaints.

The suit claims that TEPCO is financially responsible for the sailors’ medial treatment because it failed to accurately inform the Japanese government of the scale of the problem.

The Japanese government, the suit alleges, also failed to inform the US that radiation leaking from the plant posed a threat to the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan and other US assets dispatched to assist in “Operation Tomodachi”, meaning “friend” in Japanese.

The case was originally filed in San Diego in 2012, but has been delayed over the question of where it should be heard. The US government has also vehemently denied that any personnel were exposed to levels of radiation that would have had an impact on their health during the Fukushima recovery mission.

Interviewed for the San Diego City Beat newspaper in February, William Zeller said: “Right now, I know I have problems but I’m afraid of actually finding out how bad they really are.”

Formerly a martial arts instructor, he now uses a breathing machine when he goes to sleep due to respiratory problems he blames on his exposure aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in 2011.

“I literally just go to work and go home now”, he said. “I don’t have the energy or pain threshold to deal with anything else”. ”

by Julian Ryall



Local servicemen may have radiation poisoning from Fukushima — San Diego City Beat

” With a class action lawsuit pending, hundreds of Navy sailors say they can’t get the help they need.

“Right now, I know I have problems, but I’m afraid of actually finding out how bad they really are,” said William Zeller, a 33-year-old active-duty Navy servicemember living in San Diego. He’s one of the 4,500 sailors who were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan during Operation Tomodachi, a humanitarian aid mission sent to Japan the day after a tsunami triggered the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown.

“I know there’s something wrong,” Zeller said. “I’ve got many other people around me telling me I don’t look good, and I need to get checked out. While I am a workaholic, it’s a distraction.”

Zeller is only one of 318 sailors (and counting) who have joined a billion-dollar class action lawsuit filed in 2012 against the nuclear generators’ operating company, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, for injuries allegedly caused by radiation exposure.

The lawsuit argues TEPCO is financially responsible for the sailors’ medical care because the operating company, admittedly, did not inform the Japanese government of the meltdown. In turn, the Japanese government unknowingly misinformed the U.S. Navy of potential dangers of anchoring off the coast of Japan where the ship was engulfed in a plume of radiation for several hours.

“Everywhere we went we had to carry [gas masks] on our hips,” Zeller said. “We were turning on news networks, and we could see how we were right in the plume. You could taste the metallic air.”

In the six years since Fukushima, Zeller has only sought medical attention from the Navy since the care is financially covered.

“The military health system is a process, putting it politely,” he said, explaining how it took four years to learn he had abnormal bone growth, nerve damage and what he believes is irritable bowel syndrome, all of which began a year after Operation Tomodachi. His weight fluctuates 20 to 30 pounds within a month, and he’s unendingly fatigued.

“Before I went [on the USS Ronald Reagan], I used to be a martial arts instructor,” he said. “I used to go on regular bike rides. I hiked. I was in very good shape. Now, I wear a breathing machine when I go to sleep because I have respiratory problems. I literally just go to work and go home now. I don’t have the energy or the pain threshold to deal with anything else.”

Considering the Veterans Association’s inability to treat members in a timely or efficient manner, Zeller’s lawyer, Paul Garner, said VA care is not an option. Instead, they’re hopeful that a fund set up by former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will come to fruition.

Koizumi announced the creation of the fund while visiting 10 affected sailors, including Zeller, in San Diego in May. Koizumi said he expects to raise $2 million by a March 31 cutoff date. The plan is to then transfer the money to the U.S. to supplement the sailor’s medical bills at, according to Garner, some of the best care centers across the country.

However, Garner knows $2 million won’t be enough to cover every need, especially since some sailors have reported symptoms appearing in their children who were born after Operation Tomodachi.

“I have no idea if it’s caused by the radiation that I was exposed to on the Reagan, but I don’t know that it’s not,” said Jason F., who was also on board the USS Ronald Reagan but didn’t want to share his last name while he’s still active duty. His breathing is audible over the phone, as if climbing several sets of stairs, but he’s tucking his three-year-old daughter into bed at their San Diego home.

“That’s standard breathing for me,” he said. “I don’t know what to do about it. She has difficulty breathing too,” he said of his daughter, who was born in 2013. “She snores like a grown man.”

Jason is 36 years old, in shape, never smoked a day in his life and didn’t have trouble breathing until after his time on the USS Ronald Reagan. His respiratory difficulties have aggrandized since 2011, peaking during a 2016 deployment where the doctors told him the contrasting temperatures were to blame and gave him an inhaler to puff on. It took a formal request to fly him off the ship to receive medical treatment in Bahrain, where he was told he had a 60 percent chance of tuberculosis and a 40 percent chance of lung cancer. He has since been diagnosed with asthma by an outside specialist, although the treatments aren’t working.

“It’s difficult for them to figure out,” Jason said. “I mean, how many patients have they had that are exposed to radiation? And are they trained for that?”

When Zeller mentioned radiation exposure to doctors at the Navy, he said he was told it was interesting, if acknowledged at all.

Lung cancer is one of several cancers associated with high radiation exposure, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website, as well as leukemia, which several sailors have been diagnosed with. Bloody noses, rectal and gynecological bleeding, weakness and ulcers, are also symptoms reported by the sailors and are signs of radiation poisoning, according to the Scripps Health website.

In 2014, the Department of Defense published a report acknowledging that radiation exposure can cause such medical issues, but that the exposure levels were too low and the symptoms appeared too soon to make a connection.

While Zeller and Jason hope for financial support either from Koizumi’s fund or by winning the lawsuit, they want support for the others affected.

“I’m experiencing symptoms, but it’s not just for me,” Zeller said. “It’s for the individuals who are way worse than me and to bring attention to them… They have tumors, cancers, birth defects in their children, some individuals have mass muscle fatigue where their entire half of their body isn’t functional anymore, and they are stuck in wheelchairs. I am currently on the better end.”

The sailors are waiting for a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determining whether the lawsuit will continue in the United States or in Japan, if at all.

In January, TEPCO urged the court to dismiss the case, citing that it is a political matter that could impact international relations.

Jason said the lawsuit is about more than money, specifically when it comes to his daughter’s future.

“I just want accountability,” he said. “I want her taken care of. Whatever that takes.” ”

by Torrey Bailey


Fukushima reactor makers not liable: Japan court — Channel NewsAsia

” TOKYO: A Japanese court on Wednesday (Jul 13) turned down a class action lawsuit seeking damages from nuclear plant makers Toshiba, Hitachi and GE over the Fukushima meltdown disaster, the plaintiffs, one of the companies and a report said.

About 3,800 claimants in the suit, hailing from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea, had sought largely symbolic compensation from the nuclear power plant manufacturers.

Under Japanese liability law, nuclear plant providers are usually exempt from damage claims in the event of an accident, leaving operators to face legal action.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, had argued that that violated constitutional protections on the pursuit of happy, wholesome and cultured livelihoods.

But the Tokyo District Court ruled that the law “is not unconstitutional”, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.

“We knew it was difficult to win under the current legal system in Japan, but it’s clearly wrong that nuclear (plant) manufacturers don’t have to bear any responsibility for an accident,” Masao Imaizumi, 73, one of plaintiffs, told AFP.

“If they are spared responsibility, it could lead to disregard for product quality,” he said, adding that the plaintiffs will appeal.

Toshiba welcomed the decision. “The company recognises the verdict as an appropriate ruling handed out by the court,” it said in a statement.

Hitachi and GE’s Japan office could not be reached for comment. Japan’s Jiji Press also reported that the suit was rejected.

The suit – which sought just ¥100 (96 US cents) per claimant – was the first to be brought against nuclear power-plant suppliers over the accident, Akihiro Shima, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said previously.

The suit was first filed in January 2014 with just over 1,000 claimants, but more joined which saw the number nearly quadruple.

The plaintiffs had alleged that the companies failed to make necessary safety updates to the Fukushima reactors, swamped on Mar 11, 2011 by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake-sparked tsunami that lead to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Embattled plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is already facing massive lawsuits and compensation costs. ”


USS reagan sailors sue for nuclear justice

Attorney Charles Bonner gives an update on his class action litigation on behalf of 250+ named military personnel harmed by exposure to Fukushima fallout during an aid mission in March 2011. The mission was called Operation Tomodachi; “tomodachi” means “friends” in Japanese. The suit targets the plant operator and its manufacturers — GE, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi. These sailors, many of whom were in their young 20s up to 35 years old during the mission, have been suffering from various forms of cancer, atrophies, cataracts, skin conditions, etc., starting within the first year after their return from Japan. Three sailors exposed to radiation have died, and one named sailor’s wife gave birth to a baby with genetic mutations.

Bonner notes that many reactors all over the United States share the same GE design as Fukushima No. 1. And guess what, they’re ALL leaking!


**Report from Fukushima and the Abe government expansion and export of nuclear plants

The Nuclear Free California Network hosted this conference on Jan. 24 and 25, 2015, in San Luis Obispo near the Diablo Canyon.

[Note: All text in quotations is directly quoted from the speakers’ translator, Carole Hisasue, who represents Mothers For Peace, and all other text is a paraphrased version of Hisasue’s translation.]

The first speaker, Chieko Shiina from Fukushima and a supporter of the Fukushima Collaborative Clinic, says that radiation “doesn’t discriminate between organisms. It destroys everything.” In Futaba City after the March 2011 triple meltdown, a company that raised ostriches for slaughter released its ostriches into the streets, exposing them to radiation. People were evacuated, but all animals – cows, dogs, cats and pets – remained in highly contaminated areas. Shiina gave three examples of things that are happening in Fukushima.

(1) Already 85 children have had surgeries for thyroid cancer. One hundred and thirteen children are suspected of having cancer. These startling figures are a reality despite the fact that the Professor Yamashita Shunichi, former president of the exploratory committee for Fukushima Prefectural People’s Health Management Survey, said a child has a one in a million chance of getting cancer from exposure to radiation from Fukushima. In reality, that probability is one is 3,000 – an epidemic. Mr. Sugami, head of the National Cancer Research Center, estimated that cancer rates in Fukushima have risen 61 times. And still, the central and Fukushima prefectural governments claim that these rates are not a result of radiation exposure. “How long does the government think that we’ll be silent about this, in light of this epidemic? My anger will never die down. And then to think of the parents of the small children, how worried they must be. That’s one of the reasons why I set up this collaborative clinic in Fukushima. It’s operated solely by donations from people and is completely independent of the government.” The Fukushima adults are also experiencing health problems from radiation exposure – increased rates of thyroid cancer, heart attacks, leukemia, cataracts and many other health problems. It’s up to us to gather and disseminate this information.

(2) The Japanese government has opened a road that runs about nine miles from Fukushima Daiichi. It is considered open but “not for use.” They say that when you do use this road, you must have all the windows rolled up, you can’t use the air conditioning, and there’s no parking allowed on the road. “And of course, no pedestrians, motorbikes or bicycles are allowed.” So why did they even open it? It was just a front to allow the government to continue justifying its agenda: Radiation doesn’t affect Fukushima; It is safe to hold the Olympics in Japan; Restarting other nuclear plants and going to war is fine. “I cannot forgive the government. They are murderers. This is definitely a holocaust.”

(3) “I’m sure you all know about the temporary housing, where the evacuees have had to go and have been there for many years now.” The temporary housing is made up of flimsy shacks separated by plywood. “These are the people that are from the rural areas of Japan. They had lots of land. They were used to living out in the open with tons and tons of space. Now they’ve been living in these cramped quarters separated by flimsy plywood for four years now. They can’t go home. There’s nowhere to go. The radiation is too high. They used to be getting compensation from the government, but that’s been stopped. They used to be getting a transportation allowance, but that’s been stopped too. Now they’re just forgotten people completely cut off.” These people are suffering from psychological damage too, like insomnia. There are also higher rates of suicide. “These are related deaths but not directly related. The government will never seen them as being a direct effect of the radiation. So that’s the reality of a nuclear radiation war because you can’t see the radiation, and there’s no data going around. The media won’t report on it. Everything is just being swept under the rug.

There are other effects to children’s health. They cannot play outside in sandboxes anymore. The government’s solution was to built indoor sandboxes – a glass pen with sand brought in from a different prefecture. We think it’s best to temporarily evacuate the children to allow them to play outdoors, rest, relax and regain strength in uncontaminated prefectures. But the government is promoting the return of Fukushima evacuees to their hometowns, claiming that it is now safe. As a result of the way the government has been handling the situation, the people can’t even talk about their fears of radiation. They want to take their children out of those areas for the weekend so they can play outdoors, but they don’t talk about it with their neighbors, making up excuses why they are taking short vacations. Speaking about radiation exposure has become taboo. “It’s also divided families, for example, families that are still running farms. The grandparents think that the vegetables they are growing are safe, even growing them organically, and they want their grandchildren to eat the vegetables. But the mother thinks, ‘Oh no. I cannot possibly give these vegetables to my children.’ And she will throw them away, but she cannot even talk about that to her own parents.”

Last March 11, a Japanese news station called “Hodo Station,” aired a program on Fukushima. The director promised to make a follow-up show, telling an interviewee that they would be airing it soon. Instead, the program was never aired, and the director died. The director told one of the interviewees, a mother, that if she hears of his death, she should not believe that it was a suicide, no matter what others are saying. “There is no truth in the media in Japan today. There are all sorts of these mysterious events happening that are still unexplained and not investigated.” According to the Japanese government’s new Secrecy Act, any anti-government activities are prohibited, such as a gathering like this. You cannot voice an anti-government opinion. Soon the government will be stopping more and more meetings like this. The damage caused by the nuclear accident was not just radiation exposure. “There have been damage to our liberties, damage to our future for a peaceful Japan, and I want to let you know that I am so glad to be connected with you and to be able to speak with you today. I believe that nuclear power is just another form of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. And this is a struggle between the one percent and the 99 percent, in which everything is done for the profits of the one percent, and the 99 percent are just not important enough. So I believe that when the 99 percent can get together and gain strength, then we have hope for the future. Our lives are for ourselves. It’s not for the one percent. We should not stand for it. Let’s fight together.”

Shiina continues her speech at 39:45 minutes. She explains the growing success of the Fukushima Collaborative Clinic, which has volunteer doctors who test the thyroids of children and adults, including Fukushima Daiichi workers, and is solely funded by donations. By supporting the clinic’s efforts, she feels that she is at war with the Japanese government, which hides the realities of the Fukushima disaster in order to support its pro-nuclear policy. Despite the government’s claim that nuclear power is now safe due to new safety measures and precautions, Shiina questions this logic by the sheer fact that many nuclear power plants in Japan sit on fault lines, and the government has been distributing potassium iodide to populations living near nuclear plants (just in case). She also questions the new safety measures. For example, the government wants to restart a power plant in Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan that has a long winter. Evacuation drills have been conducted in the summertime, but citizens question why they shouldn’t be prepared in the event of a nuclear disaster during the winter.

Shiina advocates for labor unions and worker strikes with citizen support in order to prevent new nuclear power plants to be built and old plants to be restarted. There is a railway that runs close to Fukushima Daiichi, the Joban line. In its effort to revive Fukushima’s economy, the government tried to reopen the line, which is completely contaminated, inside and out. The Doro Mito railway workers refused to work on the line because they didn’t want to work in highly radioactive conditions, and they didn’t want passengers to be exposed to those conditions. “I believe that if the citizens and the workers all join together and work together as one, anything is possible.”

* * *

The second speaker is Chizu Hamada from No Nukes Action. [Her speech begins 33 minutes in.] Hamada explains that only the elderly evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture want to return to their homes. The young people, especially mothers, do not want to return. However, the Japanese government says certain areas are safe to live in and threaten the evacuees to move back by cutting off their compensation one year after their evacuation zone has been lifted, i.e. deemed safe to inhabit. The government simply doesn’t want to continue paying compensation.

Secondly, there have been many mysterious deaths related to radiation exposure that the local government has not recognized. The government counts 1,758 deaths related to Fukushima radiation, but there are actually many more. This misinformation is related to the new Secrecy Act, which makes exposing such information punishable.

Thirdly, Japan’s nuclear front has two good pieces of news. Last year, Kansai Electric Power Co. lost its suit in trying to restart to reactors at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui. The verdict stated, “Human lives are above the profit of industries.” Contributing to this verdict was a lawsuit brought against an electric company by the husband of a Korean cancer victim, claiming that radiation from a nuclear power plant caused his wife’s cancer. This is one of the few instances in Japan were there is an accepted causal relationship between radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant and cancer.

* * *

The third speaker is Isamu “Sam” Kanno of No Nukes Asian Action, an anti-nuclear organization that brought a class action lawsuit, with 3,853 plaintiffs from 39 countries, against GE, Hitachi and Toshiba for damages resulting from the Fukushima disaster. No Nukes Asian Action has gathered 1,290 plaintiffs from Japan, 138 from the United States, 1,000 from Korea and 600 from Taiwan, along other countries such as Germany and Mongolia. “Basically this is an action against the fact that the manufacturers of the nuclear reactors are exempt, by law (the Price-Anderson law, 1957, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act), from any liability. … ”

” … Eisenhower made the Atoms For Peace speech in 1953, and it was strange because in 1945, two Japanese cities were destroyed by nuclear weapons. We see [Atoms For Peace] as a way to justify holding on to nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. Already the UK and the Soviets had nuclear power since 1955. In the 60 years since then, many countries have gotten nuclear power. What have we gotten from it? Just some steam generation.” The United States persuaded Japan to build nuclear reactors in a country riddled with earthquake faults, but this wasn’t for nuclear power; it was for the potential of nuclear weapons production. In 2012, the United States supported the restart of the Oi nuclear reactors. “There is a slogan going around in Japan saying that nuclear power plants are a nuclear weapon aimed at ourselves. …” The United States has not been creating new nuclear power plants for a long time, but the problem in Asia is that countries like Japan, Korea and Russia are trying to proliferate nuclear power plants and export them to other countries. When a nuclear accident occurs in Japan, the radiation fallout will reach the United States in eight hours, and the radiation in the water will reach the U.S. in about three years. Right now Japan is using the Pacific Ocean as a “giant radioactive sewer.” There’s no way to measure the radioactive debris in Fukushima, some 300 tons [daily], which leaks into the Pacific Ocean through groundwater.

* * *

Toward the end of the video, Carole Hisasue from Mothers For Peace tells her evacuation story from Fukushima and explains that the nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon, Calif., holds the same risks for a nuclear disaster. Also, Chizu Hamada makes another speech.

watch video here