Over 150 U.S. service members say Fukushima radiation has triggered medical issues — Now Defense Department abandons medical registry, leaving them on own

Published: February 1st, 2013 at 3:31 pm ET


Title: Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Americans
Source: New Jersey Newsroom
Date: January 31 2013

The Department of Defense has decided to walk away from an unprecedented medical registry of nearly 70,000 American service members, civilian workers, and their families caught in the radioactive clouds blowing from the destroyed nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi […]

The decision to cease updating the registry means there will be no way to determine if patterns of health problems emerge among the members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, Corps of Engineers, and Navy stationed at 63 installations in Japan with their families. In addition, it leaves thousands of sailors and Marines in the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group 7 on their own when it comes to determining if any of them are developing problems caused by radiation exposure.

So far, however, more than 150 service men and women who participated in the rescue mission and have since developed a variety of  medical issues – including tumors, tremors, internal bleeding, and hair loss – which they feel were triggered by their exposure to radiation.

[…] the decision by the Defense Department to abandon the registry leaves them on their own. […]

Statements by service members:

  • “We stayed about 80 days, and we would stay as close as two miles offshore and then sail away” -Navy Quartermaster Maurice Enis, navigator on the USS Ronald Reagan
  • “Normal outside radiation exposure is between five and 10 CCPM. And that’s from the sun.  At Atsugi [in Kanagawa Prefecture, ~250 kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi], the background readings were between 200 and 300 CCPM in the air. It was all over. The water was radiated. The ground was radiated. The air was radiated.” -Michael Sebourn, senior chief mechanic for the helicopter squadron based at Atsugi
  • “The rule was if there was anything over a count of 500 you needed special gloves. Over 1,000 CCPM and you needed a Tyvek radiation suit. And if it was over 5,000 you needed an entire outfit – suit, respirator, goggles, and two sets of gloves.  You couldn’t put a contaminated radiator back into the helicopters – they had to be replaced. I remember pulling out a radiator and it read 60,000 CCPM.” -Sebourn

See also: [intlink id=”report-many-sailors-from-uss-ronald-reagan-suffered-problems-after-311-no-amount-of-money-would-compensate-me-if-im-23-years-old-and-bleeding-from-my-behind” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: February 1st, 2013 at 3:31 pm ET


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51 comments to Over 150 U.S. service members say Fukushima radiation has triggered medical issues — Now Defense Department abandons medical registry, leaving them on own

  • We Not They Finally

    So the Japanese themselves turn people away from hospitals, refuse to examine kids, and keep deformed and/or stillborn babies off the statistics. Now the AMERICANS are shutting down their tracking system? I guess when people just start dying in the streets, we can all just walk outside and go, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…."??

  • Three Eleven Eleven Three Eleven Eleven

    They're turning their backs on their service men/women.

  • Jay

    " … They do not blame the Navy for their predicament, but are joined in an expanding law suit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, for providing false information to the US officials about the extent of spreading radiation from its stricken reactors at Fukushima … " .

    Reading between the lines :

    1) it means that the Captain of the carrier R. Regan Believed the Japanese And it did not take precautionary measures …. I mean , Christ , you are approaching a radiation plume , what orders are you gona give ? Pull up your socks ???? There is no doubt that under the circustances the right call should have been for " All under Deck and in radiation protective aparel " !!

    2) it means the Captain was Not informed by the USA intelligence about Live Satellite coverage of the radiation plume

    3) does it mean there was no radioactive plume coverege by US/NATO satellites OR is that the USA intelligence did not want to reveal that info ( even if the Captain was aware of it ?? ) …

    WTH is going on ??

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      The captain of the Reagan doesn't act based on Japanese press releases. It wasn't his job to watch CNN and decide if they were lying, if there was a plume, what caused it when, and how bad it was.

      When he knew his crew detected radiation, he was right in the middle of a flight operation. You can't just shut it down, send everyone below and tell the pilots in the air "Sorry". It's not like he ignored it – he's getting irradiated the entire time, too. He did have the crew shelter and moved away when the choppers came back.

      Look at the bigger picture here, Jay. Why is the 7th Fleet, the Navy and the DOD so incompetent that they put a nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and all the carrier escorts into this position at all? They did give the Reagan an area around the reactor to avoid, but it was a 25-mile radius or something useless like that.

      They're the ones that have all the expensive space toys and can walk their fat butts down the hall to see what the spooks are looking at. They're suppose to have had the Reagan's back – they should have told the captain exactly where the plume was. Instead, they send the ships out to gas up Japanese helicopters and deliver a few cases of water to the tsunami victims.

      I EXPECT the NNSA, DOE and NRC to consider the sailors as throw-away people concerning the meltdowns. But the Navy? Geeze… that's pretty damn disturbing.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "I EXPECT the NNSA, DOE and NRC to consider the sailors as throw-away people concerning the meltdowns. But the Navy? Geeze… that's pretty damn disturbing."

        Straight from Panetta. And who gives him his orders? Straight from the CiC.

        Everyone involved in the creation of, and covering up of Fukushima is guilty of 'Accessory To Preventable Nuclear Accident Genocide'.

      • Jay

        Paveway , my main point is that the US/NATO satellites were supposed to monitor the radioactive plume and to warn the Captain way in advance . ( a 60 Km/hour wind will give you one hour warning if you are 60 Km away from the radiation – minus the chater and decision time , it leaves probably 30 to 20 minutes warning minimum , aiborne planes should be redirected to land bases )
        This warning was not a matter of minutes but more simply because the distance of the carrier from Fukushima .
        So he had plenty of time .

        • Time Is Short Time Is Short

          That's what those trillions of dollars of satellites are for – early warning.

          Absolutely correct, Jay.

          Everyone above SecDef in DC knew everything that was going on, in real-time. The decision to kill off a large chunk of our US military in Asia was made in minutes.

        • PavewayIII PavewayIII

          I don't think there's any satellites that can detect plumes of radioactive gas or particulates.

          The DOD doesn't care about plumes for the most part. Their early warning capability is to detect the initial stages of an ICBM launch. They can detect actual nuclear detonations through the GPS system, but that's about it.

          The only way I know that they can place a plume for sure is by airborne sampling. That's the Constant Phoenix jet the DOE sent down, but I don't think they ever reported anything useful. They never said a peep about the jet stream – I don't think they figured it would ever make it there. The plane's purpose is not to quantify harmful radionuclides, but to look for a few specific ones that indicate a test ban violation.

          DOE and NRC *only* know how to do modeling, and all those models depend on you inputting a known source term. The NRC's model didn't even go beyond 50 miles because they figured an entire reactor and spent fuel pool's inventory would be so 'diluted' beyond 50 miles that it was pointless to model further. They pretty much ignored Naval Reactor's (or anyone else's) actual readings because reality disagreed with their models. The figures they did 'trust' were Tepco's, so they figure their models were overestimating contamination.

          If we have anything like satellite plume detection, I would love some links.

  • lam335 lam335

    If CPM is "counts per minute," what does the extra C signify in CCPM?

  • Pierpont

    The article by Roger Witherspoon is excellent. It fills in a lot of fact-gaps in the ENENEWS prior threads on the USS Gipper law suit v. TEPCO.

    This quote stands out:

    Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith added that as a result of the agency’s decision that there was no serious contamination, “There are no health surveillance measures required for any member of the DoD-affiliated population who was on or near the mainland of Japan following the accident and subsequent radiological release from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station beginning on or about March 11, 2011.”

    This will be TEPCO's Exhibit "A". Will they be permitted to call the USN as a witness? They probably will not call Ronald Reagan himself, although for some reason I keep expecting him to turn up again. Like Dracula, can't keep a good man down.

    • Three Eleven Eleven Three Eleven Eleven

      Roger Witherspoon also wrote another good article where I learned something new:

      "Commercial nuclear power plants markedly differ from U.S. Navy nuclear vessels in the way they handle radioactive emissions. If Navy vessels simply pumped their radioactive gasses into the air, in time the accumulations in the ship would be so great that it would be a multi billion dollar, radioactive, uninhabitable relic of a warship. The Navy stores their waste until it can be properly disposed of. But that is a cost commercial operations avoid."

      Possibly this is why navy guys defend nuclear energy….they are not directly exposed to the effluents.


      • Sickputer

        Good article by Witherspoon…there was one negative comment by Tom Green invoking the age old defense of "so many studies have found blah….blah…nah…."

        Written in April 2010 by Witherspoon the "new" study he mentioned the NC was beginning is languishing like a lung-contaminated sailor on the USS Ronald Reagan:

        My response to Mr. Green (since the comments there are frozen for any rebuttals):

        So why has the NRC waited nearly three years to even begin the new cancer study? These groups are all in bed with each other hopping from the nuclear industry jobs back to the government and vice versa.

        But it doesn't matter…the nucleocrats already have their minds made up…money trumps health every day of the week:

        "While some civic groups have supported the study, the top industry trade group had argued against it, saying the study is "unlikely to produce scientifically defensible results."


        SP: The nuclear industry always has some excuse to delay any action on health research. And since Exelon has their straw man in the White House (and more to come every four or eight years)there is unlikely to be any changes until some mysterious illness kills half the population of the Northern Hemisphere.

        But it won't be radiation from the sky…oh no…that is impossible. It must be some kind of flu carried by African gnats or some other poppycock excuse.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "Possibly this is why navy guys defend nuclear energy….they are not directly exposed to the effluents."

        Not true. Navy sailors are horribly exposed, the entire ships' crew.

        "Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has a certain half-life, in some cases for billions of years. I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it… I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation. Then you might ask me why do I have nuclear powered ships. That is a necessary evil. I would sink them all. Have I given you an answer to your question?" – Hyman Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy

        • Three Eleven Eleven Three Eleven Eleven

          Yes, TIS, I was referring to exposure to radiation from navy ships, since the article says the Navy stores the waste until it can be properly disposed of.

          However, with nuclear power plants, the effluent is dumped directly into the air and water. It's not stored until it can be properly disposed of.

          That was the contrast.

          Good quote by Rickover.

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Did you include a link?

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        And following that quotation:

        "But there are skeptics of the Defense Department’s blanket conclusion that there was not enough radiation poured into the environment to warrant continuous monitoring of the men, women, and children living and working there.
        “'Radiation does not spread in a homogenous mix,' said Lochbaum. “There are hot spots and low spots and nobody knows who is in a high zone or in a low zone. Who knows what the actual radiation dose to an individual is? There are no measurements of what they consumed in water and food.
        “'This is the Navy’s best attempt to take a few data points they have and extrapolate over the entire group. They took a lot of measurements, but those represent just a pint in time. It’s like taking a strobe light outside to take a picture of a nighttime scene. Every time the strobe flashes you will get shots in spots of the area. But do you really capture all of the darkness?'…”

        Supporting TEPCO seems really strange, since the ship abandoned the area as fast as they could. And we have seen the videos of the crew ringing alarms as they are been measured for radiation poisoning.

        I wish you would go to Fukushima yourself with no protection and with your geiger counter. Put your feet where your mouth is.

        • Pierpont

          My feet already are where my mouth is. That's why I wear peppermint flavored socks.

          On the way back from Fukushima I'll drop in on Fordow and check out that explosion you're so wanked out about. I'll send you and your soulmate Farah a postcard. Same address??

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            I've never met anyone connected to the government since about 1959 when the daughter of McNamara lived in the same dorm as me. And I've never met anyone in the news media. And I've never dated anyone except my husband since 1959, and I've been by myself since 1970.

            Grow up and stick to the issues. And be consistent. If you think radiation is so good for you, then why don't you travel to Fukushima and do a documentary on the work there?

            • i agree with anne wholeheartedly. <i>ad hominem</> is an ethically inferior, logistically flawed, and aesthetically distasteful method of responding to an argument.

              one i would think we would all do best to avoid.

      • yohananw

        "a necessary evil. I would sink them all"–Economics of Defense Policy: Hearing before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, 97th Cong., 2nd sess., Pt. 1 (1982).
        Reference to Rycover quote as in wiki bio and in wikiquote, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hyman_G._Rickover. (Ref misses exact date, page number?)

  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    Tells me things must be a heck of a lot worse. JMHO

  • midwestern midwestern

    They never had any drills for radiation disasters?

    From article, quote from Michael Sebourn, chief senior mechanic for helicopter squadron:

    “This was a completely unprecedented event,” he said. “We had never dealt with radiation before. We were completely brand new to everything and everyone was clueless. We had had drills dealing with chemical and biological warfare. But we never had any drills dealing with radiation. That was nuclear stuff and we didn’t do nuclear stuff. The aviation guys had never dealt with radiation before. We had never had aircraft that was radiated. So we were completely flying blind.”

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Nobody does – the cold war is over. There are no EMP drills either.

    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      There really is no reason to drill for something no one will survive anyway.

      Only the PR to cover it up after the fact. After-event PR planning is part of any military scenario at any -COM.

      It's a brave new world.

  • Three Eleven Eleven Three Eleven Eleven

    Timeline of military articles give a good idea of what was going on:

    March 12
    "Aircraft carrier Reagan now in Japanese waters"

    March 13
    "Reagan helos delivering aid to quake survivors"

    March 15
    "Navy families in Japan urged to stay indoors"

    March 15
    "More U.S. relief crews exposed to radiation"

    March 21
    "Marine Corps helicopters flew blankets, water and humanitarian supplies Monday to a city in Japan’s devastated northeastern coast"

    March 26
    "U.S. naval barges loaded with freshwater sped toward Japan’s overheated nuclear plant on Saturday to help workers struggling to stem a worrying rise in radioactivity and remove dangerously contaminated water from the facility."

    March 29
    "About 5,150 people had taken up the Defense Department on its offer to let them leave Japan"

    • Three Eleven Eleven Three Eleven Eleven

      Continued —

      April 1st
      "U.S. military helps search for tsunami victims"

    • Pierpont

      Wow, 3, great work. It'll take a while to look at them all. thx.

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      There's a bit of a back-story on the Navy's involvement. For the most part, the average Japanese living anywhere near a U.S. base resents their presence on Japanese soil. To make matters worse, Japan has to pay the U.S. a few billion every year to support those bases. Seems like extortion going back to WWII. Consider that with the disturbing number of rapes committed on Japanese women by U.S. sailors… the U.S. Navy just isn't welcome.

      The Japanese government is just the opposite. The self-defense forces are pretty useless against serious foreign aggression. It would cost tens of billions to rebuild their military independence. Easier just to outsource to the stupid Americans. Give them some bases on Japanese soil and a few billion and the U.S. seems happy to defend Japan.

      Before the tsunami, there were ongoing negotiations about keeping the bases open. After the tsunami, the Navy was pretty insistent about helping in relief efforts. It wasn't just for show or PR, but the Navy brass was keenly aware of that angle. The Japanese really didn't know what to do with offers of help from the Reagan, so they sent them somewhere off of Sendai initially to refuel Japanese helicopters on relief flights. That's not trivial – fuel was a problem up north.

      The later missions of bringing water to refugee centers – I don't know. You really don't need a nuclear aircraft carrier for that. Japan has trucks.

  • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

    A young man from my area who'd scored highly on the military aptitude/entrance test after graduating H.S. with Honors was given a 6-figure bonus for signing on for a Rating/MOS described as "nuclear engineering" that required a top-secret security clearance was home on leave before deploying to his duty station-somewhere near Tokyo,Japan!(ugg 🙁 !) ~but he didn't know much(yet) about Fukushima at all!!(?) After being unluckily chosen by fate to skool him in a hurry and in the process inform him that Japan USED TO BE one of the top #3 places to be assigned as a permanent duty station prior to 3/11/11 and suggested he talk to servicemen/women who were also stationed there during & after 3/11/11,especially those in his own field of specialty perhaps aboard The USS Washington & USS Reagan. Hopefully he has and quietly sees my post here on ENE too for that matter?!! 😉 But he did confide to me that someone "in the know" told him he would need to earmark a large amount of funds for purchasing imported foods & drink and to avoid ALL local food and eating establishments! I felt bad for peein' on his parade but if he's gonna be there for 3 or 4 years while working as a navy nuker in a place already contaminated by an unstoppable,ongoing nuclear mega-disaster(s) won't give him much of a chance to avoid dealing with resulting health issues including but not limited to various cancers,etc. within 5-10 years,maybe much sooner!!(?)-some "future"?!!……(now I'm bummed again)…

    • you couldn't pay me enough to deploy there…

    • i am in a similar position with a gentleman in the US Navy whose ship was stationed in or around Tokyo bay (i think) for the period. he too was woefully unfamiliar with information now taken as assumed by most of the regulars reading this comment. woefully.

      of note:
      —he had to fill out some sort of survey specifically tied to three eleven, no results given.
      —he was made fun of for wanting his health checked for radionuclide specific issues.
      —whereas his ship was wont to filter its greywater from seawater as it went, instead the vessel chose to take on water from the bay and use it instead, not discharging until six to eight months later when they arrived in Los Angeles.

      concerning the last i venture the hypothesis that they thought the ships filters would malfunction, clog, not work well enough, OR be disabled by the radiation in the seawater OR prove so "hot" as to be practically unserviceable. not that they seem to have cared about generating opportunities for enlisted men to require medical attention, or initiate legal proceedings, down the line

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Radiation is forced on everyone for no reason. It must be outlawed.

  • frankfan42 frankfan42

    Well, the sad truth is you can't find that which you actively, most definitely avoid looking for. And in the bargain you make it very difficult for those who develop all kinds of health issues from their exposure in the years to come. There is logic in this thinking, although it is a sick, evil calculus.


    I thought this was very interesting read:

    List of military nuclear accidents


  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Part 1 Radioactive Contamination of American Sailors
    “The strike group was detoured from its South Pacific duties and brought to Fukushima for Operation Tomodachi,which was named using the Japanese word for “friend.” It was an 80-day humanitarian aid and rescue mission in the wake of the earthquake and massive tsunami that decimated the northern coastline and killed more than 20,000 people. The rescue operation was requested by the Japanese Government and coordinated by the US State Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Departments of Defense and Energy. In addition to the USS Ronald Reagan with its crew of 5,500, the Strike Group included four destroyers – The Preble, McCampbell, Curtis Wilbur, and McCain – the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, and several support ships ( http://bit.ly/11bfTqS ).

    “It was the participants in Operation Tomodachi – land based truck drivers and helicopter crews, and carrier based aircraft and landing craft – who were repeatedly trying to guess where the radioactive clouds were blowing and steer paths out of the way. It was unsuccessful on more than one occasion, according to Defense Department records and participants, resulting in efforts to decontaminate ships travelling through contaminated waters and cleansing helicopters only to send them right back into radioactive clouds….”

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      “’We stayed about 80 days, and we would stay as close as two miles offshore and then sail away. It was a cat and mouse game depending on which way the wind was blowing. We kept coming back because it was a matter of helping the people of Japan who needed help. But it would put us in a different dangerous area. After the first scare and we found there was radiation when they (the power company) told us there was none, we went on lockdown and had to carry around the gas masks.’…
      “’After the explosion in Fukushima Daiichi Unit #4 the Japanese were not able to get enough water into the building to keep the spent fuel pool cool,’ Lochbaum said. ‘So the US airlifted a concrete pumper truck all the way from Australia to an American naval base in the northern part of the island. And the Japanese would not let it leave the base because it wasn’t licensed to travel on Japanese roads. Given the magnitude of their problems, that seemed to be the wrong priority’….
      “’Normal outside radiation exposure is between five and 10 CCPM,” he said. “And that’s from the sun. At Atsugi, the background readings were between 200 and 300 CCPM in the air. It was all over. The water was radiated. The ground was radiated. The air was radiated.

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      “’The rule was if there was anything over a count of 500 you needed special gloves. Over 1,000 CCPM and you needed a Tyvek radiation suit. And if it was over 5,000 you needed an entire outfit – suit, respirator, goggles, and two sets of gloves. You couldn’t put a contaminated radiator back into the helicopters – they had to be replaced. I remember pulling out a radiator and it read 60,000 CCPM.’…”


  • AntonButler



  • jeosesatellite