Congress has called upon the Pentagon to submit a report on the possibility that radiation contamination sickened sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan as the crew participated in humanitarian efforts after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The Navy Times reports:
In the fiscal 2014 omnibus budget bill, lawmakers direct Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson to provide Congress a full accounting of those who served on the carrier Ronald Reagan during the operation and any medical problems they later developed.
Lawmakers' concern about the health of Reagan sailors stems in part from a lawsuit filed by Reagan crew members against Tokyo Electric Power Company in 2012. As Home Post previously reported, the suit claims the Japanese government (which owns the utility) lied about the amount of radiation leaking from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant - putting the Reagan sailors at risk.
According to the Navy Times...
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, has 71 plaintiffs with ailments ranging from leukemia and thyroid problems to eye diseases and polyps.
Army Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokeswoman, wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes that the Defense Department is taking Congress's request seriously:
“The Department treats reporting requirements included in committee reports seriously and tries to respond to all of them."
Paul Garner, a lawyer for the Reagan plaintiffs, told Stars and Stripes he anticipates at least another 25 to 100 sailors and Marines will be added to the lawsuit. Garner says Congress's request for more information is a positive sign:
“It feels like maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. But we shall see.”
(Video, courtesy of CBS News, from March 15, 2013)