Navy Sailor: Crew members lost control of their bowels after Fukushima radiation exposure, as skin rashes developed; “It was a real big problem” — Congress signs bill making military conduct health survey (VIDEO)

Published: January 19th, 2014 at 9:48 am ET
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Military Times, Jan. 15, 2014: The Senate quickly passed the massive $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday evening 72-16 and sent it to the president for signature, which the White House has signaled it will approve in short order. [...] The legislation orders a number of reports and changes, including: [...] A request for a report from the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs on medical conditions and the prevention, treatment and care given to sailors who believe they were exposed to radiation while serving on the carrier USS Ronald Reagan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

NHK, Jan. 16, 2014: US to check sailors’ radiation risk [...] The US Defense Department is to conduct a health survey of US sailors who took part in the relief efforts for the March 2011 quake and tsunami in Japan [and] report back to Congress by mid-April on the condition of the US naval servicemen who reported health problems after taking part in the relief operation.

New Zealand Herald, Jan. 18, 2014: [USS Ronald Reagan's flight deck crew member Lindsay Cooper] describes sailors vomiting and losing bowel control as skin rashes appeared. “It was a real big problem. We thought gastroenteritis was going around the ship.” [...] Cooper is dealing with ongoing thyroid issues, dramatic weight swings and abnormal menstrual cycles. Other shipmates also have problems she says. In Washington state, Thomas McCants, 21 [was a] gunner’s mate on the USS Germantown, McCants joined the vessel, previously part of Tomodachi, in July 2011. Fit when he joined McCants was discharged as unwell five months later. His discharge documents refer to an “adjustment disorder”, manifested as stomach pain, weight loss and fatigue. Last October he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid lymphoma. He needs a bone marrow transplant. [...] Cooper says the Veterans’ Administration diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder from the disaster, and prescribed an antidepressant.

Sheila Smith, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow & Japan expert: “Is it dangerous to our military? To our civilians? [...] there’s a huge debate about radiation exposure, how quickly it was understood. So it’s not just the Ronald Reagan – was it in the right place at the wrong time? – but do we really understand today the extent to which people have been exposed?”

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

Published: January 19th, 2014 at 9:48 am ET
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