Harvey Wasserman / Common Dreams & EcoWatch – 2014-01-12 23:01:39
We Want Justice for Fukushima’s Irradiated First Responders from the USS Ronald Reagan and Other Ships
Petition by Harvey Wasserman
To be delivered to:
Tokyo Electric Power,
the government of Japan, and
the government of the United States.
We sign to support the crewmembers of the USS Ronald Reagan and other “first responders” now sick from radiation poisoning after rushing to help Japan’s earthquake/tsunami victims in March 2011.
Then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan says, “the first meltdown occurred 5 hours after the earthquake.” But Tokyo Electric kept secret Fukushima’s dangerous levels of radiation, which irradiated these heroes during their courageous humanitarian service.
We support them and their federal lawsuit and demand that Tepco:
1. Admit responsibility for its negligence at Fukushima;
2. Establish funds sufficient to compensate these sailors and to monitor their health;
3. Acknowledge the right of the US Courts to mediate and oversee these claims.
Scores of sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan and other US ships who responded with humanitarian aid for victims of the 3/11/2011 earthquake and tsunami were irradiated by Fukushima. They are now suffering radiation-related health effects. We ask that Tokyo Electric Power compensate them, and that the governments of Japan and the United States help in this process.
Toll of US Sailors Devastated by
Fukushima Radiation Continues to Climb
Harvey Wasserman / Common Dreams & Reader Supported News
(December 12, 2013) — The roll call of US sailors who say their health was devastated when they were irradiated while delivering humanitarian help near the stricken Fukushima nuke is continuing to soar.
So many have come forward that the progress of their federal class action lawsuit has been delayed.
Bay Area lawyer Charles Bonner says a re-filing will wait until early February to accommodate a constant influx of sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and other American ships.
Within a day of Fukushima One’s March 11, 2011, melt-down, American “first responders” were drenched in radioactive fallout. In the midst of a driving snow storm, sailors reported a cloud of warm air with a metallic taste that poured over the Reagan.
Then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, at the time a nuclear supporter, says “the first meltdown occurred five hours after the earthquake.” The lawsuit charges that Tokyo Electric Power knew large quantities of radiation were pouring into the air and water, but said nothing to the Navy or the public.
Had the Navy known, says Bonner, it could have moved its ships out of harm’s way. But some sailors actually jumped into the ocean just offshore to pull victims to safety. Others worked 18-hour shifts in the open air through a four-day mission, re-fueling and repairing helicopters, loading them with vital supplies and much more. All were drinking and bathing in desalinated water that had been severely contaminated by radioactive fallout and runoff.
Then Reagan crewmembers were enveloped in a warm cloud. “Hey,” joked sailor Lindsay Cooper at the time. “It’s radioactive snow.”
The metallic taste that came with it parallels the ones reported by the airmen who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by Pennsylvania residents downwind from the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island.
When it did leave the Fukushima area, the Reagan was so radioactive it was refused port entry in Japan, South Korea and Guam. It’s currently docked in San Diego.
The Navy is not systematically monitoring the crew members’ health problems. But Cooper now reports a damaged thyroid, disrupted menstrual cycle, wildly fluctuating body weight and more. “It’s ruined me,” she says.
Similar complaints have surfaced among so many sailors from the Reagan and other US ships that Bonner says he’s being contacted by new litigants “on a daily basis,” with the number exceeding 70.
Many are in their twenties, complaining of a terrible host of radiation-related diseases. They are legally barred from suing the US military. Tepco denies that any of their health problems could be related to radiation from Fukushima. The company also says the US has no jurisdiction in the case.
The suit was initially dismissed on jurisdictional grounds by federal Judge Janis S. Sammartino in San Diego. Sammartino was due to hear the re-filing January 6, but allowed the litigants another month to accommodate additional sailors.
Bonner says Tepco should be subject to US law because “they are doing business in America â€¦ Their second-largest office outside of Tokyo is in Washington DC.”
Like the lawsuit, the petitions ask that Tepco admit responsibility and establish a fund for the first responders to be administered by the US courts.
In 2013, more than 150,000 citizens petitioned the United Nations to take control of the Fukushima site to guarantee the use of the best possible financial, scientific and engineering resources in the attempted cleanup.
The melted cores from Units One, Two and Three are still unaccounted for. Progress in bringing down Unit Four’s suspended fuel assemblies is murky at best. More than 11,000 “hot” rods are still scattered around a site where radiation levels remain high and some 300 tons of radioactive water still flow daily into the Pacific.
But with US support, Japan has imposed a state secrets act severely restricting reliable news reporting from the Fukushima site. [See story below.]
So now we all live in the same kind of dark that enveloped the USS Reagan while its crew was immersed in their mission of mercy.
Petitions in the sailors’ support are circulating worldwide on NukeFree.org, MoveOn, Avaaz, RootsAction and elsewhere.
Japan’s New ‘Fukushima Fascism’
Harvey Wasserman / EcoWatch
(December 11, 2013) — Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts.
The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the US. But within Japan, a new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law “represents a coup d’etat” leading to “the recreation of a fascist state.” The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to “conspiracy” laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been leading Japan in an increasingly militaristic direction. Tensions have increased with China. Massive demonstrations have been renounced with talk of “treason.”
But it’s Fukushima that hangs most heavily over the nation and the world.
Tokyo Electric Power has begun the bring-down of hot fuel rods suspended high in the air over the heavily damaged Unit Four. The first assemblies it removed may have contained unused rods. The second may have been extremely radioactive.
But Tepco has clamped down on media coverage and complains about news helicopters filming the fuel rod removal.
Under the new State Secrets Act, the government could ban — and arrest — all independent media under any conditions at Fukushima, throwing a shroud of darkness over a disaster that threatens us all.
By all accounts, whatever clean-up is possible will span decades. The town of Fairfax, CA, has now called for a global takeover at Fukushima. More than 150,000 signees have asked the UN for such intervention.
As a private corporation, Tepco is geared to cut corners, slash wages and turn the clean-up into a private profit center.
It will have ample opportunity. The fuel pool at Unit Four poses huge dangers that could take years to sort out. But so do the ones at Units One, Two and Three. The site overall is littered with thousands of intensely radioactive rods and other materials whose potential fallout is thousands of times greater than what hit Hiroshima in 1945.
Soon after the accident, Tepco slashed the Fukushima workforce. It has since restored some of it, but has cut wages. Shady contractors shuttle in hundreds of untrained laborers to work in horrific conditions. Reuters says the site is heaving infiltrated by organized crime, raising the specter of stolen radioactive materials for dirty bombs and more.
Thousands of tons of radioactive water now sit in leaky tanks built by temporary workers who warn of their shoddy construction. They are sure to collapse with a strong earthquake.
Tepco says it may just dump the excess water into the Pacific anyway. Nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani has advocated the water be stored in supertankers until it can be treated, but the suggestion has been ignored.
Hundreds of tons of water also flow daily from the mountains through the contaminated site and into the Pacific. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen long ago asked Tepco to dig a trench filled with absorbents to divert that flow. But he was told that would cost too much money.
Now Tepco wants to install a wall of ice. But that can’t be built for at least two years. It’s unclear where the energy to keep the wall frozen will come from, or if it would work at all.
Meanwhile, radiation is now reaching record levels in both the air and water.
The fallout has been already been detected off the coast of Alaska. It will cycle down along the west coast of Canada and the U.S. to northern Mexico by the end of 2014.
Massive disappearances of sea lion pups, sardines, salmon, killer whales and other marine life are being reported, along with a terrifying mass disintegration of star fish. One sailor has documented a massive “dead zone” out 2,000 miles from Fukushima. Impacts on humans have already been documented in California and elsewhere.
Without global intervention, long-lived isotopes from Fukushima will continue to pour into the biosphere for decades to come.
The only power now being produced at Fukushima comes from a massive new windmill just recently installed offshore.
Amidst a disaster it can’t handle, the Japanese government is still pushing to re-open the 50 reactors forced shut since the meltdowns. It wants to avoid public fallout amidst a terrified population, and on the 2020 Olympics, scheduled for a Tokyo region now laced with radioactive hot spots. At least one on-site camera has stopped functioning. The government has also apparently stopped helicopter-based radiation monitoring.
A year ago a Japanese professor was detained 20 days without trial for speaking out against the open-air incineration of radioactive waste.
Now Prime Minister Abe can do far worse. The Times of India reports that the State Secrets Act is unpopular, and that Abe’s approval ratings have dropped with its passage. But the new law may make Japan’s democracy a relic of its pre-Fukushima past.
It’s the cancerous mark of a nuclear regime bound to control all knowledge of a lethal global catastrophe now ceaselessly escalating.
Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org, where petitions calling for the repeal of Japan’s State Secrets Act and a global takeover at Fukushima are linked. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.
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