Sailors Seek Millions From Japanese Utility TEPCO Over Radiation Fears

Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Joseph Conant, from Santee, gives a Japanese woman canned goods during the USS Ronald Reagan's participation in a humanitarian mission in Sukuiso, Japan. The mission followed the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord)

Sailors and their relatives have sued a Japanese-owned utility, accusing the company of failing to tell the truth about the true dangers following the 2011 failure of the Fukushima nuclear plant, according to reports.

Stars and Stripes is reporting that a group of sailors from the Coronado-based USS Ronald Reagan have filed suit in San Diego’s U.S. District Court alleging that because of misleading information released by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, their lives could be cut short because they were exposed to harmful levels of radiation. 

The aircraft carrier was dispatched to Japan to offer humanitarian aid in the wake of the March 2011 disaster, which was prompted by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami. 

Stars and Stripes named the plaintiffs – Lindsay Cooper, James Sutton, Kim Gieseking, Charles Yarris, Robert Miller, Christopher Bittner, Eric Membrila and Judy Goodwin. They range in age from 23 to 38.

They are seeking $40 million each in damages in the suit.

The Associated Press reports that one of the individuals named in the suit, filed Dec. 21, is a Reagan crew member’s infant child, who was born after the disaster.

Stars and Stripes said the sailors complained of a number of ailments they have suffered after serving in Japan, including headaches, problems with concentration, rectal bleeding and thyroid issues.

The group also is urging the utility to set aside $100 million for a fund to reimburse them for medical expenses over their lifetimes.

Paul Garner, the sailors’ Encinitas-based attorney, told Stars and Stripes the San Diego suit seems to be the first filed on behalf of U.S. military members who were involved in the humanitarian mission. TEPCO has entered agreements with Japanese victims of the disaster, promising them monetary aid for their suffering.

The Reagan is currently in Bremerton, WA., as the carrier nears the end of a major refurbishing project.

For more, see Stars and Stripes.