U.S. sailors sue Tepco for $1 billion over alleged radiation exposure


Nearly 80 U.S. sailors are seeking $1 billion from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, alleging the company lied about the high level of radiation in the area where they were carrying out a humanitarian mission following a tsunami that touched off a nuclear crisis three years ago.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego contends that Tepco repeatedly said there was no danger to the crew when they were actually being blanketed with radiation that has since led to dozens of cancer cases and a child being born with birth defects, the Orange County Register newspaper reported Monday.

The Japanese company says its “wholly implausible” military commanders would rely on safety information from the utility.

This is the second time the sailors have targeted the utility, the newspaper reported.

Their 2012 suit was dismissed because it named the Japanese government, which owns the utility, and a judge said that put it beyond the reach of a U.S. court. An amended suit names only the utility, which runs the plant where three reactors went into meltdown and exploded in March 2011, sending radiation into the air.

The 79 sailors served on the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was ferrying food and water to the city of Sendai in the wake of a massive earthquake that triggered the tsunami.

In a motion to dismiss the new lawsuit, the Tokyo utility said that there was no way the commanders of the aircraft carrier would have relied on the utility to determine the safety of its sailors.

“It’s wholly implausible,” the company says in its response, “that military commanders in charge of thousands of personnel and armed with some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment, relied instead only on the press releases and public statements of a foreign electric utility company.”

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Exactly how do they think they are going to enforce their 1 billion dollar suit against TEPCO.

    This is a silly publicity stunt that makes the US military look unhinged and out of control.

    • Sam Gilman

      To be fair, it’s not the US military, who directly contradict the claims these people make. I understand many of their crew mates are none too pleased with them either. The media are giving these people a ridiculously easy time and thereby enabling their paranoid delusions. Their radiation/health claims are scientifically preposterous, and rely in no small part on well-known Internet conspiracy nutcases.

  • Mike Wyckoff

    Several reactions to this…
    1. 12.7 million per person? This isn’t some powerball lottery.
    2. If they are sueing anyone, it should be the U.S. military for assigning them there. Tepco is correct in its statement that there is no way the U.S. military would be laying 100% trust in TEPCO press releases.
    3. The people of Fukushima are recieving several times less money, and there is no way TEPCO will or should pay out before fully compensating people who have lost their livelihoods, homes, etc, first!
    4. TEPCO won’t pay.
    5. How many millions are the families of the deceased TEPCO staff recieving?

  • Brian Mertel

    Too many people looking for free money. Well free to them, but the tax payers will have to foot the bill. This is coming from a sailor that served on the Reagan when this happened. Sure there may be some that were actually affected but I am willing to bet there are plenty of others that hopped on board just because they were there. I read somewhere that sailors were exposed to 30x normal levels. Normal levels are close to nothing, and 30x that would still render no harm. I guess we will see how this comes out. Also, I would like to point out the fact that even though we did sail through a radiation cloud the ship was sealed up. The air filters aboard did become radiated, but not to a harmful level. I think this is an example of how sue happy some people are. If there were any truly affected then I hope justice is brought forth, but to any jumping aboard the suit in a frivolous fashion, I hope justice is served to them as well.

    • Starviking

      Well said!

      And thanks to you, your crewmates, and the task force for coming to help us three years ago.

  • Dion Rogers

    Tepcos defense is of course we lied & you should’ve known we lied. You’re fault for believing us… If anyone has read any of the history on the fake repairs (with duct tape) or all the workers that have been cooked over the years, you’d see why lying is just assumed. So much for honor. Instead of gutn yourself, just pay a fine, or not…

    • Mike O’Brien

      No, TEPCO’s defense is that the US military would have relied on their own actual measurements and not on TEPCO’s reports. So the US government should be a party to the lawsuit, and of course that lawsuit has already been dismissed.

  • NVN777

    Japan should sue the US for the 2 atomic bombs dropped in 1945. Now it’s even.

  • NVN777

    Dear US sailors,
    You sign on the dotted line to join the military, what do you expect this is? Boy scout? LOL

  • tryingtounderstandit

    Notice how TEPCO does not deny the fact they intentionaly lied about the volume of radiation released. It`s as though TEPCO was suggesting “why would you, or anyone else ever be so stupid to believe anything we say.” TEPCO is an evil, truly dishonest company…I was in Tokyo the day the factory exploded, it was not only TEPCO, but NHK, and the government who repeatedly said “nothing happened, everything is under control, it`s all 100% safe.” I`m tired of TEPCO`s culture of dishonestly…they feel as though they owe NOBODY the truth. TEPCO has zero morals, and zero respect for other people, the people at TEPCO believe the Japanese public are a bunch of idiots.

  • Mister Jimmy

    Why were they providing “relief” in Japan in the first place? They don’t help anyone in the US when there are disasters. Where were they during Katrina and Sandy? Nobody is going to pay them, either, even if some judge does rule in their favor.