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    原発問題 -The Truth is Out There-

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    東電福島原発事故の真実 放射能汚染の真実 食物汚染の真実 正しい情報を求めて

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    福島救出作戦の永続的な遺産:パート4 余波と生きる 被ばくした水兵達の証言 

    米国防省がトモダチ作戦に参加した7万人弱の米軍人、軍属とその家族達の医療登録を放棄したということは、彼らがそれだけ強烈な被曝を受け、今後助かる見込みの無い事、治療法も無く、医療費が莫大になる事がわかったことの裏返しです。米軍は同胞達をも見捨てたのです。


    福島救出作戦の永続的な遺産:パート4 余波と生きる
    A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Part 4 Living with the Aftermath
    March 15, 2013 By Roger Witherspoon
    http://fukushimavoice.blogspot.jp/2013/03/4.html より

    (被ばくした水兵達の証言部分のみの和訳)

    大柄の黒人の水兵は、裸でデッキの下のロープで囲まれたエリアのど真ん中にいて、あまり嬉しそうではなかった。

    「彼は、『ブーツもじゃないだろうな?妻が買ってくれたばかりなんだ。』と言い続けていた。でもそのブーツも結局脱がされ、裸で立っていた。そして、ゴシゴシと体を洗わされた。」と空母ロナルド・レーガンの航海科士官モウリス・イニスは回想した。

    この水兵は、船体を洗う時に使う、液状の紙やすりのようなザラザラした洗剤を使わされた。そして、皆が見ている目の前で体中をゴシゴシと洗わなければいけなかった。洗面台の所まで歩いて行ってすすぎ、戻って来てガイガーカウンターを体中に当てられた。ガイガーカウンターが鳴らなくなるまで、繰り返さなければいけなかった。

    「そして、次は自分の番だった。」

    増大する恐怖

    クォーターマスターのイニスにとって、除染を待つ事は予想だにできぬ出来事だった。クォーターマスターの主な業務責任は2つある。船の航海と、帆柱に付けてある、艦隊の他の船に旗艦が何をしているかを知らせるための、シグナルの旗の操作だった。イニスは、帆柱の一番上で2週間なびいていた星条旗を降ろし、艦長の部屋へ持って来るように命令を受けた。

    「星条旗を降ろしました。」とイニスは言った。「そして、敬意を込めて丁寧にたたみ、右腕と胴体の右側の間に旗を抱え、中に持って来て片付けました。何も特別な事だと思いませんでした。」

    夕食後、放射能探知機の傍を通った時、「アラームが全部鳴り出しました。」とイニスは回想した。「そして、何にも誰にも触らない様にと怒鳴られ、除染エリアに直行するように言われました。」

    ロープによって分けられた「除染」エリアには、チェックされるのを待つ男女の水兵の列ができていた。しかし、イニスは待たなくて良く、列の先頭に行かされた。そこでは、ロナルド・レーガンの上級士官とシニア軍医官が注意深く見守る中、ある光景が繰り広げられていた。部屋の真ん中の裸の水兵は体を覆うタオルをもらって去って行った。次にイニスが呼ばれた。
    「私達は、放射能はないと言われてました。」とイニスは言った。「艦内に放射能チェクポイントが設置され始めた時、彼らは理由を言ってませんでした。ブーツの検査は大丈夫でした。手をチェックした時、測定器が狂ったように鳴りました。」

    「検査をしてる人は怖がって、『彼から離れろ!』と言いました。次に、腕にビニール袋をかぶせられて、彼らは皆に私から遠ざかるように言いました。伝染病のペストを持ってるかのように扱われて、パニックを起こしそうになりました。研磨用の塗料剥離剤で胴体の右側と両手をゴシゴシと洗わなければいけませんでした。皮膚の表面が何層か剥けました。」

    イニスは、自分の放射能測定レベルが何だったのか、その時もその後も教えてもらえなかった。艦内の乗組員の中では最大値だとしか教えてもらえなかった。しかし、その時イニスは、放射能の事自体よりも、未知の事に対する恐怖の方に気を取られていた。

    士官達はイニスを見て、怒鳴って命令していた。男女の乗組員の仲間達は、除染ステーションの外側から自分たちの順番を待ち、黙ってイニスを見ていた。

    「かなり恥ずかしかったです。」とイニスは言った。「半分裸で怒鳴られながら、皆の目の前でゴシゴシと体を洗い、何が起こってるのか教えてもらえずに怖い気持ちでした。状況から察するに、自分は本当のトラブルに陥ってるのだと思いました。それに乗組員達も怖がっていました。誰も放射能の専門家ではありませんでした。死ぬのだろうか?癌になるのだろうか?どこかに追いやられるのだろうか?と自問自答しました。皮膚が水疱状態になったりするのだろうか、と思いました。何も分かっていませんでした。」

    海軍は、放射性物質の粒子は確かに石鹸と水で洗い流せると言われていた。それは部分的には本当だった。α粒子は滑らかな表面から洗い流す事ができた。β粒子も体内に入り込む経路となるような傷が皮膚にない限り、洗い流す事ができた。海軍が使っていた研磨用の塗料剥離剤は、皮膚の上層部を剥離した。その上、空母のフライトデッキは、滑らかなプラスチックやガラスでできているのではない。ただゴシゴシ洗うだけでは、多孔性の表面から粒子を取り除く事はできない。

    ロナルド・レーガンの乗組員達は、海上では放射能の心配をする必要はないと言われており、航海科士官として、イニスは放射能は避ける事ができるプルームだと信じさせられていた。しかし、放射能雲はいたるところにあり、必ずしも避ける事ができないのが明らかだった。

    クォーターマイル(400m)の長さのデッキ上では、また別の警告があった。

    「デジタル腕時計を持っていました。」とクォーターマスターのジェイミー・プリムは言った。「それが突然止まりました。誰かが、放射能のせいだと言いました。その時デッキには5−6人が居たのですが、皆、自分の腕時計を見たら、デジタル腕時計は全部止まっていました。すごく高価な腕時計をしてる人がいましたが、それも止まっていました。」

    「最初は笑っていたのですが、そのうちただお互いを見るだけでした。笑えるほどおかしいと思えなくなったからです。」

    そしてデッキの下で働いていた乗組員はもっと少ない情報しか持っていなかった。ジェット機の整備士は、航空機のパーツのほとんどを、放射能測定を受けるために下に持って降りていた、とジェニファー・ミックは説明した。ハンガーの巨大なエレベーターへのアクセスは限定されていた。

    「ハッチに見張り番が配置されました。」とミックは回想した。「航空隊のメンバーが折り畳み椅子に座り、誰もキャットウォークを通ってデッキに出ないように見張っていました。船の他の部分の汚染を減らすために、出入りは船の前の部分のみに限定されていました。」

    「見張り番は一日中そこに座って、間違った方向に向かった人達に怒鳴っていました」ミックはフライトデッキ上のジェット機が放射能汚染された環境下にあったのを知っていた。「フライトデッキから降りて来る度に、誰かがブーツをゴシゴシ洗って、最終的には汚染されたものの山に加え、除去しなければいけませんでした。デッキに上がる時は、普通のブーツの上からまたブーツを履き、それを捨てる事になりました。そのうち、化学用・生物用・放射能スーツを着なければいけませんでした。」

    「マスクと酸素ボンベも支給されましたが、それは実際には使いませんでした。」

    これらの予防策がどれほど効果的だったかは不明である。空母というのは複雑な産業街であり、常にどこかで大なり小なり部品が壊れているものである。普通の消耗による損傷もあれば、事故からの損傷もある。

    トモダチ作戦の間、ドアの下にボロ布を押し込んで大気中の放射能の拡散を防ぐのは、ドア自体が壊れていたり、ドアの周りが壊れていたり、場所によっては水密のドアが修理のために外されていたと言う事からすると、機密性は保たれていなかった。すなわち、図面上では空母ロナルド・レーガンには密閉された部屋が並んでいたが、実際にはどちらかと言うと、空気が自由に循環する、浮いているカタコームだった。

    付帯的損傷


    「健康状態は、去年の初めに下り坂に向かいました。」と、空母レーガンでのF−18の構造整備士でハズマット・コーディネーターであるミックは言った。(2012年)3月30日に、カリフォルニアで命令変更の際に整列している時に、初めて意識を失いました。

    脱水状態だろうと言われ、医務官のエリアで座り、水を1本飲みました。そして4月29日にまた気を失いました。この時は救急室に運ばれ、頭痛がすると訴えました。

    (気を失った時に)『頭を打ったんじゃないか』と言われ、CTスキャンをされ、『脳に腫瘍が見つかった』と言われました。それ以来二回手術を受け、海軍を辞めました。」

    詳細を説明すると、ミックの前頭葉で医師が見つけたのは、2期乏突起星(ぼうとっきせい)細胞腫と言う癌だった。脳内で筋の通った話し方を司る部分にできる致命的で不治の癌である。腫瘍を取り除くと空洞ができ、その空洞が時にはつぶれてしまって、付帯的損傷を起こす事がある。

    ミックの2度目の手術の後、「今は癌は活発でない」と知らされた。「まだ残ってる部分は、何もせずにそこにあるだけです。そこにあるのは分かっていますが、何もしていないし痛みもないので、そんなに悪くありません。」

    「2ヶ月ごとに病院に行ってチェックを受けています。ストレスは多いけれど、何とか生きて生活できています。」

    生きると言う事に関しては、ミックは最初の出発点である、ウィスコンシン州ソープの両親の農場に戻って、癌の次の再発を待っている。現時点では、医者を受診する予約がたくさんあるので、週5日仕事をするとか言う事はとても難しいです。車を持っていないので、両親に色々な所へ車で連れて行ってもらわなくてはいけません。」

    ミックは、予測できない状態と共存する事と折り合いをつけている。「私の将来の計画はそんなに大きく変わっていません。」と言った。「まだ大学に行き、良い仕事を見つけ、人生を行きて行くつもりです。癌に関しては、手のような体の他の部分みたいに、私の一部です。受け入れて共存するようになりました。」

    「この瞬間を生きて、自分らしく生きて、できるだけ長く人生を楽しむと言うことなのです。」

    ミックは、原子炉の状態と真の放射能放出について米国政府を誤って導いたとして、東電に訴訟を起こしているグループの1人である。ミックは、放射能が自分の癌を引き起こした原因だと言う。

    「私が訴訟に加わったのは、他の人にこういう事が起こらない様に、誰かが責任を取るためです。事実を隠すと言う事は、長い目で見ると誰かの人生を台無しにするし、それが他の人に起こるのを見たくないのです。」とミックは説明した。


    「海軍に関しては、どこかに改善の余地があったわけではないと思います。海軍は(放射能に対しては)、訓練を受けていません。その時持っていた情報で、最善を尽くしたを思います。軍の仲間達や任務で行った場所には素晴らしい思い出があります。」

    ある意味、ミックがまだ海軍に所属している間に気を失って癌の診断を受けたのは幸運だったと言える。今の所、ミックの医療費はカバーされているが、それは変わるかもしれない。

    「医師達は、これが任務に由来するのか決めていません。」とミックは言った。

    国防省が放射能は軍人達に何の健康被害も起こさなかったと前もって決め、トモダチ医療登録を廃止したため、ミックは、またさらに1人の、不治の癌と健康保険なしの海軍退役軍人になるかもしれない。

    急速な老化

    マイケル・シーボーンは、海軍の航空機整備士としての17年間の間に、多くの部品が消耗するのを見て来た。厚木基地で整備をしたヘリコプターの多くは良く使われていたため、安全と最大の業績を確実にするために、部品が交換された。しかしトモダチ作戦の間には、ヘリコプターの部品、特にラジエーターと送風管は、エンジンに大量の放射性物質が吸い込まれたため、ほぼフライトごとに交換された。「

    ラジエーターを再使用する事はできませんでした。」とシーボーンは言った。「交換しなければいけませんでした。水と洗剤を入れた樽に入れ、その樽を立入禁止テープのようなバリアの後ろに置きました。そして毎日放射能が樽から漏れていないかを測定しました。」

    「樽からは放射能が出ており、放射性物質の自然崩壊には何年も何年もかかります。タイベックス・スーツを脱いだ後、それも切り刻んで樽の中に入れました。シールがついていたり汚れていたりしたものは、放射性物質が付着するから、全て樽に入れなければいけませんでした。樽に何かを入れれば入れるほど、放射能数値が上がりました。まるで繁殖してるかのようでした。」

    それは、2011年春の、嵐のような80日間であり、永遠に終わった期間だとシーボーンは思っていたが、それは間違いだった。シーボーンの8歳の息子のカイが2011年5月に奇妙な病気になったのである。

    「カイは吐くのが止まらなくて3週間学校を休みました。」とシーボーンは言った。「学校の規則では、吐いたら早退しなければいけませんでしたが、カイは1日に10−15回吐いていました。気分が悪かったのではなく、ただ吐くのが止まらなかったのです。」

    「最終的にストレスのせいだと言われました。今でも同じような事が起こる時がありますが、何故これが起こるのかは分かっていません。」

    だが、シーボーンの体調は良好だった。去年までは。

    「2012年3月に、海軍の軍医が原因を説明できないような症状がありました。」とシーボーンは言った。「体の右側だけ、普通の強さの40−50%しかありません。MRIを2度、そしてレントゲンやエコー検査も受けましたが、原因が分かりません。」

    「腕、胸と肩が痛くて、体の左側が右に比べてもっと大きくなってきています。右利きだから右をもっと良く使うので、これは変です。」

    シーボーンもカイも、遺伝的カウンセリングやモニタリングを受けなかった。17年間の兵役の後は、海軍はシーボーンだけに健康保険を5年間支給する。「そしてその後は、何も健康保険をもらえません。退役後は、軍人はしばらくカバーされますが、家族には保険が支給されません。」

    その5年が終わったら?「それは素晴らしい質問です。」と、体の右側だけが若年性老化現象を起こしているかのように弱くなり続けているシーボーンは言った。

    「7万人の兵士とその家族のためにトモダチ登録はそのためにあり、10年か15年経ってから健康被害が出たら、兵役に関連しているから医療を受ける事ができるはずでした。しかし国防省がトモダチ登録を廃止したので私達がどうなるのか分かりません。」

    シーボーンが東電訴訟に加わったのは、東電が、自分たちが起こしたダメージに対して責任を持ち、将来的な医療費を払うのを確実にするためだった。

    「海軍に対して放射能の事で怒ってはいません。放射能と対処した事がなかったから、何が起こっていたのか分からなかったのです。海軍は私達に嘘をつきませんでした。海軍は最善を尽くしました。皆、盲目的に計器飛行をしていたのです。」

    官僚社会の航海

    原子力空母ロナルド・レーガンと第7艦隊がトモダチ作戦の終了後に日本から離れるにつれ、航海科士官プリムとイニスは安堵を感じた。やっと終わって、放射能調査チームから、もう安全だと言われたからだ。

    「内部被ばくの検査などは受けませんでした。」とプリムは言った。「皮膚の表面を測定器で測定しただけでした。血液検査や他の検査は受けませんでした。」

    「80日間あそこにいました。」とイニスは言った。「最後の方で、下あごに小さな腫れ物ができているのに気づきました。診てもらおうと思ったら、その頃には放射能専門家は船から去っていました。」

    「その後、胃潰瘍になり始め、腫れ物がまた2つできました。ひとつは太ももの下の方、もうひとつは両目の間でした。」

    空母レーガンは、1年間の除染とオーバーホールのために、ピュジェット・サウンドに向かった。イニスは4年間の入隊だったので、5年間の入隊だったプリムが兵役を終えるのを生産的に待つ間に、ワシントン州ブレマートンのオリンピック大学に入学した。

    「海軍で良く言う事があります。」とイニスは回想した。「何かというと、兵役終了後、髪の毛を伸ばして長いヒゲを生やすのだ、と言うのです。海軍にいる間は、ヒゲや髪を伸ばしてはいけないからです。」

    「髪を伸ばして、あご髭も生えました。そして、毛が抜け始めました。今では髪の毛をクシでとかす事を滅多にしません。もしもクシでとかしたら、たくさん抜けてしまうからです。そして、何かを書いている時、右手が震えます。」

    身長185センチで運動選手のイニスは、オリンピック大学フットボールチームのMVPになり、400mダッシュは、2012年オリンピック選考タイムの2秒以内だった。今は、1日を過ごすエネルギーを見つけるのも難しい。

    「私はまだ25歳です。」とイニスは言った。「なのに、体がバラバラになってきています。こんなに痛みがあっていいはずはありません。体のケアはとても良くしていたのに、今は体内のスイッチが消されているようです。老人のように感じます。こんな状態はイヤです。」

    「放射能が何かをしたかもしれないかは、わかりません。でも、これが自分のせいでないのはわかります。」

    イニスは海軍が彼の医療記録を「失くした」と知らされた。だから、今の健康被害の症状を、空母ロナルド・レーガンでの兵役と結びつける事が不可能だということである。故に医療が必要でもカバーされない。

    プリムにとっては、問題は最初はただ厄介な事にすぎないように思えた。「6ヶ月間、生理が完全に止まりました。」とプリムは言った。


    「何故生理が止まったのか分からないから、医者は妊娠検査を何度も何度もしました。でも妊娠していませんでした。そして6ヶ月後に生理が始まった時、あまりの出血に気を失っていたので救急室へ行きました。」

    それは医学的な説明が明確でないけど再発する現象だとプリムは言った。普通の生理周期が突然迅速でコントロール不能な出血に変容し、病院で医療処置を受けなければいけなかった。2012年3月に喘息になって初めて気管支炎になったが、この後、12月に海軍を辞めるまでに、5回、気管支炎になった。

    海軍は、婦人科系疾患を兵役に関連づけない。放射性物質の吸入がプリムの呼吸器系疾患に影響を与えたかもしれないという可能性は、国防省がトモダチ作戦の参加による健康被害はなかったと決めた時に、除外された。そのため、プリムも健康保険がない。

    元航海科士官達は、フロリダ州ジャクソンビルに引っ越し、セント・ジョンズ・リバー州立大学に通っており、ノース・フロリダ大学への転校を希望している。2人共、海軍時代には良い思い出を持っている。

    「自分の一部分では、海軍がわざと乗組員を傷つけるようなことをしないだろうと信じたいです。」とプリムは言った。「あの当時に出て来た数少ないニュースを覚えていますが、日本政府は福島第一原発からの危険はなく、放射能は漏れておらず、全てがコントロールされていると言っていました。」

    「日本政府は嘘をついていました。私は日本政府を責めます。」

    しかし、イニスは引き裂かれている。「日本政府は私達の政府に嘘をつきました。そして、自分の中では海軍はそんな事を乗組員にしないだろう、そんな危険な状況にわざと私達をおかないだろう、と思いたい気持ちがあります。」

    「でも、まさにそれをしたのだ、と思う気持ちもあります。」

    A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Part 4 Living with the Aftermath
    March 15, 2013 By Roger Witherspoon
    http://spoonsenergymatters.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/a-lasting-legacy-of-the-fukushima-rescue-mission-part-4-living-with-the-aftermath/

    The large black sailor was naked in the middle of a roped-off area below decks, and he was none too happy.

    “He kept saying ‘Not my boots, too. My wife just bought them for me.’ But they made him take them off anyway, and he was just there, naked. Then they made him scrub,” recalled Maurice Enis, navigator of the USS Ronald Reagan, one of the Navy’s newest aircraft carriers.

    “They gave him this really abrasive stuff that we use to clean the hull of the ship. It’s sort of like liquid sandpaper. And he had to scrub all over while everyone watched. Then he walked over to the sink and rinsed it off, then came back and stood while they ran the Geiger counter over him. He had to keep doing it till the Geiger counter was quiet.

    “Then it was my turn.”

    There was a dark turn to Operation Tomodachi, the massive search and rescue effort launched March 11, 2011, off the northern coast of Japan which had been ravaged by an earthquake and giant tsunami. The combined natural disasters left some 20,000 Japanese dead and the coastal infrastructure destroyed. Tomodachi, the Japanese word for “friend”, was an 80-day mission requested by the Japanese government and coordinated by the US State Department and the Department of Defense. The DoD quickly mobilized its 63 Japanese bases and called in the USS Ronald Reagan, carrying 5,500 sailors and Marines, along with its Strike Group consisting of four destroyers – The Preble, McCampbell, Curtis Wilbur, and McCain – the Cruiser USS Chancellorsville, and several support ships ( http://bit.ly/11bfTqS ).

    But the rescue mission quickly detoured down a dangerous, uncharted path. The earthquake had cracked Unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, and the tsunami had knocked out all power to the safety systems controlling Units 1 through 4. Control of the mission was expanded to include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.

    The fuel in Units 1 through 3 was quickly melting down. The fuel in Unit 4 had been offloaded to the spent fuel pool – which was located above the reactor itself – due to a planned refueling. By March 15 explosions had blown the roofs off and the walls out of all four reactor buildings and radiation was spewing into the air.

    There was no power to circulate water in any of these buildings, so the Japanese had to improvise. They borrowed high powered pumping trucks from the Americans and poured water onto the buildings, let it run through the spent fuel pool and reactors, and out the bottom, where it flowed into the ocean. All the while, however, the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government sought to minimize the radiological disaster. TEPCO would declare there was little or no radiation when, in fact, contamination was high and out of control.

    There were some 70,000 American service members and their families in Japan and Defense officials were worried that they might all have to be evacuated. Family members were evacuated from Yokosuka Naval Air Base, 188 miles south of Fukushima, when radiation was detected in increasing amounts there. It was that detection which convinced American officials that the Japanese were not being honest. By calculating the amount of radiation that must have been released in order for Yokosuka to be threatened, NRC officials correctly deduced that despite Japanese assurances, the reactors had been breached.

    But the overriding concern was for the Americans in the land based installations – the men and women of Operation Tomodachi were overlooked. And at times, they were just two miles off the coast of Fukushima as helicopters went back and forth, seeking survivors and transporting food and supplies.

    The Americans at sea were on their own.

    For Quartermaster Enis, the wait for decontamination was a completely unexpected turn of events. The quartermasters had two main responsibilities: navigating the ship, and operating the signal flags attached to the mast, which let others in the fleet know what the flagship was doing. Enis had been ordered to bring down the American flag, which had been flying atop the mast for two weeks, and bring it to the Captain’s quarters.

    “I brought it down,” he said, “and folded it respectfully and tucked it under my right arm, next to my body. I carried it inside, put it away, and thought nothing of it.”

    After dinner, he was walking past a sensor “and the alarms all went off,” he recalled. “And they began yelling at me not to touch anything or anyone and to go straight to the decontamination area.”



    There was a line in the cordoned-off “decon” area with men and women waiting to be checked. But Enis didn’t have to wait – he was already marked and was ushered to the front, where a tableau was playing out under the watchful eyes of the Reagan’s executive officer and senior medical officer. The naked sailor in the center of the room was given a towel to cover himself and left. They called Enis.

    “They had told us that there was no radiation,” said Enis. “When they started putting up the stations along the ship to check for radiation they didn’t say why they were there. They checked my boots and nothing happened. Then they checked my hands and the machine goes crazy.

    “The guy doing the checking freaked out and said to ‘Step away from him!’ Next thing I know, I got plastic bags on my arms and they are telling everyone to get away from me. I almost had an anxiety attack because they were treating me like I had the plague. They weren’t touching me. They were yelling commands to where I had to walk and what I had to do. I had to scrub my hands and my right side with this gritty paint remover and it took off a couple of layers of skin.”

    Enis was not told, then or later, exactly what his radiation reading was. They did say his was the highest level recorded among personnel on the ship. At that time, however, the radiation level was not his main concern. Fear of the unknown consumed his attention.

    The officers were watching him and barking orders. His fellow sailors – men and women – silently watched him from the edges of the decon station while waiting their turn to be checked for radiation.

    “It was pretty embarrassing,” said Enis. “You’re half naked and getting yelled at and scrubbing in front of all sorts of people and I’m scared because they are not telling me what is going on. The way they acted, I thought I must be in real trouble. And it scared the crew. None of us were experts on radiation. You ask yourself are you going to die? Are you going to get cancer? Are you going to be shipped off? I didn’t know if my skin was going to bubble up or something. I didn’t know anything.”



    The Navy had been assured that radioactive particles could be washed away with soap and water. That was partly true. Particles emitting alpha rays, the weakest sort, could be washed away from smooth surfaces. Those emitting beta rays, which are stronger, can also be washed away as long as there are no breaks in the skin providing pathways to enter the body. The abrasive paint-removing soap used by the Navy, however, removed the top layers of skin. In addition, the carrier’s flight deck is not made of smooth plastic or glass. Merely scrubbing would not remove particulates from such porous surfaces.

    The Reagan’s crew had been assured that there was no radiation to worry about over the open ocean and, as the ship’s navigator, Enis had been led to believe that the radiation was a distinct plume that they could avoid. It was now apparent that the radiation cloud was everywhere, and avoiding it would not always be possible.

    On the quarter mile long deck there was another alarming note.



    “I had a digital watch,” said quartermaster Jaime Plym, “and it suddenly stopped working. Somebody made a crack that radiation would do that. There were five or six of us on deck and everyone looked at their watches – and all the digital watches had stopped. There was one that was real expensive, and it wasn’t working either.

    “We were laughing at first. But then that petered out and we just sort of looked at each other because it wasn’t funny anymore.”

    And those who worked below decks had even less information to go on. The jet mechanics, said Jennifer Micke, had most of the aircraft parts brought down to them for testing. There was limited access to the huge hangar elevators.

    “They set up a hatch watch,” Micke recalled, “which was people from the air squadrons sitting in folding chairs and making sure no one went on deck through the catwalk. They were to enter and exit only through the front of the ship because they wanted to reduce the level of contamination in the rest of the ship.


    Jennifer Micke
    “So they would pretty much sit there all day and yell at people who went the wrong way.”

    Micke knew the jets on the flight deck were in a radioactive environment. “Every time we came off the flight deck,” she said, “some guy would have to scrub your boots and toss them in a pile and take them away. When you were going up on deck you would put on a pair of boots over your regular boots so they would have to throw those away. Then we had the chemical, biological, radiological suits that we had to put on.

    “We were issued masks and canisters, but we never ended up actually using them.”

    How well these precautions worked is an open question. An aircraft carrier is a complex industrial town and, at any given time, major and minor pieces of equipment are broken. Some of the damage came from normal wear and tear, and other damage came from accidents.

    During Operation Tomodachi, the effectiveness of putting rags under the doors to limit the spread of air-borne radiation was compromised by the fact that there were broken doors, broken door jams and seals and, in some places, water-tight doors which had been removed and taken to the Reagan’s machine shop for repairs. On paper the USS Ronald Reagan was a series of closed compartments. In reality, it was more of a floating catacomb with the air flowing freely through it.

    Nothing to Worry About

    The official position of the US Navy is that there was very little radioactive contamination of any of its personnel. The Defense Department created the Tomodachi Medical Registry ( http://bit.ly/14ABPuj ) over a two year period, compiling the medical records of some 70,000 military personnel and their families who could have been exposed to varying amounts of radiation during the crisis in Japan.

    The Registry was completed in December, 2012. One month later, the Department concluded that their estimates of the maximum possible whole body and thyroid doses of contaminants were not severe enough to warrant further examination. The Registry, the only epidemiologically valid way to determine over time if there is a pattern of illnesses which could be traced to that exposure, was abandoned.

    Overlooked, however, is the fact that the Navy’s Registry, as a tool to accurately chronicle medical anomalies among the 70,000 contaminated Americans, was flawed in its inception. The Navy did not conduct a thorough medical examination of each person to establish an accurate baseline of their health. Instead, the Registry is an amalgam of all their latest health records.

    In practice, that meant there was no real way to know what the actual baseline health condition was for each individual. Without that baseline, Veterans Administration physicians could not tell if the development of a tumor, or asthma, or cyst inside the body or on the skin represented a radical departure from the patient’s condition at the time of exposure to radiation or if the condition predated Operation Tomodachi. Without that baseline or an active registry showing similar medical issues among many service men and women, there is little chance for veterans to successfully claim that exposure to radiation lay at the root of their health problems.

    The decision that the Americans in Japan were probably safe was not unreasonable. Ed Lyman, a nuclear physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who is


    Ed Lyman – Nuclear Physicist
    writing a book on the meltdowns with nuclear safety engineer Dave Lochbaum and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Susan Stranahan, said that both government and independent researchers have tried to calculate the level of contaminants from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.

    “The consensus was it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” said Lyman. “It would be hard to see that anyone could have acquired a serious dose in that short a period of time. The dose rates were only high enough, from what’s publicly known, to cause that kind of injury fairly close to the plant grounds to have lasting health effects.

    “Still, I am always in favor of collecting data. Five years may not be enough time for radiation –induced cancer to appear in most cases. But more data is always better.”

    Others are more skeptical.

    “I had no faith in the Registry to begin with,” said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and specialist in the spread of radiation in the environment. “With the atomic bomb survivors from the military program in the Utah desert, the registry that the Defense Department put together was bogus. The exposure they got was much greater than the Defense Department calculated.

    “Knowing that the Defense Department has a history of putting people into harm’s way and then minimizing the exposure, I had no faith in this latest effort.”

    Gundersen said he is “disappointed, but not surprised” that the Tomodachi Registry has been shelved. “It’s pretty clear that those on the Ronald Reagan got higher exposures than their commanding officers are claiming. Too many people had common symptoms that I can’t attribute to mass hysteria.

    “One of the big uncalculated numbers are from the noble gasses. These blew over the carrier and they didn’t stick, but they are inhaled by personnel when you see the guys swabbing the decks to clear out particulates. That was a bad sign. You are not supposed to get particulates 100 miles offshore. So what the hell did the sailors breathe in? Their lungs have to have the same crap that was on the deck and in the water, and none of the Defense Departments exposure assessments take into account the hot particles in the sailors’ lungs.” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCzuPm4T4qo )

    And those who participated in Operation Tomodachi know that there are problems.

    Collateral Damage



    “My health started going south at the beginning of last year,” said Micke, the F-18 structural mechanic and hazmat coordinator on the USS Reagan. “On March 30, I was standing in formation during the change of command in California, and I passed out for the first time.


    Jennifer Micke
    “They told me I was just dehydrated, so I sat there in the medic area and drank a bottle of water. Then, on April 29, I passed out once more and this time they took me to the emergency room and I told them I had a headache.

    “They said ‘Maybe you hit your head’. So they did a cat scan and came back and said ‘We found this mass in your brain’. I’ve had two surgeries since then and I’m out of the Navy.”

    Technically, what the doctors found was a level 2, Oligoastrocytoma cancer ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligoastrocytoma ) in Micke’s frontal lobe. It is a pernicious, incurable cancer which lodges in the area of the brain responsible for coherent speech. Removing the bulk of the growth leaves a cavity which, in some cases, can collapse and cause collateral damage.

    After Micke’s second surgery last fall she was informed that “it’s not active right now. The parts they left up there are just sitting there, dormant. I know they are up there, and it’s not as bad as it could be since they aren’t doing anything and it doesn’t hurt.

    “I go back to the hospital every two months to have it checked. It’s pretty stressful, but it’s definitely livable.”

    Living means she is back where it all began, on her parents’ farm in Thorp, Wisconsin, waiting for the next eruption of her cancer. “At this point,” said Micke, “I have so many doctors’ appointments that it is difficult to really do anything as far as getting a job 5 days a week. I don’t have a car so my parents are driving me everywhere.”

    Micke has reconciled herself to living with the unpredictable. “My future plans haven’t changed severely,” she said. “I still plan on going to college, getting a good job, and continuing life. As for the cancer, it’s a part of me, like living with your hand. You come to terms with it and live with it.

    “You live for today and be yourself and enjoy life for as long as you can.”

    She is part of the group suing TEPCO for misleading the American government about the conditions of its reactors and the true release of radiation, which she blames for her condition.

    “I’m just mainly doing it so it doesn’t happen to anybody else, just so somebody is held accountable,” she explained. “Hiding stuff messes with people’s lives in the long run, and I don’t want to see this happen to anybody else.

    “As for the Navy, I don’t see where they could have done much more. It’s not something you train for. They did the best they could with the information they had. And I have great memories of the people I worked with, and the places I’ve been.”

    To some degree, Micke is fortunate that she passed out and was diagnosed while still in the Navy. At the moment, her medical expenses are being covered. But that may change.

    “The doctors have not determined yet if it is service connected,” Micke said.

    Since the Defense Department has pre-determined that radiation did not cause any illnesses among its personnel and has cancelled the Tomodachi Medical Registry – which is the only epidemiological way to determine patterns of health problems – Micke may yet become a Navy veteran with an incurable cancer and no health care.

    Ageing Fast



    Michael Sebourn had seen a lot of parts wear out during 17 years as a naval aircraft mechanic. Many of the helicopters he serviced at Atsugi saw heavy use and parts were replaced to ensure safety and maximum performance. But during Operation Tomodachi helicopter parts – particularly the radiators and air ducts – were replaced after just about every flight because of the huge amounts of radioactive particles they sucked into the engine.

    “You couldn’t put the radiator back in,” said Sebourn. “It had to be replaced. We dumped it into a barrel full of water and soap and set the barrel behind a barrier, like a police line. Then every day we would take measurements to see if any of the radiation was seeping through.

    “The barrels gave off radiation, and it takes years and years for the radioactive material to decay on its own. We would take off our Tyvek suits and cut them off and put them into the barrels, too. Everything that had seals or were dirty had to go into the barrels, since that’s what the radiation sticks to. The more we put into the barrels, the more the radiation grew. It seemed to feed on itself.”

    That was a hectic 80-day period in the spring of 2011 which Sebourn thought was behind him forever. He was wrong. His eight-year-old son, Kai, got mysteriously ill in May, 2011.

    “He went through vomiting fits and missed three weeks of school,” said Sebourn. “They had a rule then that if you threw up you were sent home, and he would throw up 10 – 15 times a day. He didn’t feel bad, but he couldn’t stop vomiting.

    “Eventually they just wrote it off as stress. He still has those episodes and they never have been able to evaluate why he does it.”

    But Sebourn was fine, until last year.

    “In March of 2012 I got some medical problems which the Navy doctors couldn’t explain,” he said. “The right side of my body is at 40% to 50% of its normal strength. I’ve had two MRIs, had X-rays, ultrasound, and they can’t figure out what is wrong with me.

    “My arm, chest and shoulder are sore and I’m getting disproportionately big on my left side, which is odd since I’m right handed and use that side more.”

    Neither he nor Kai received genetic counseling or monitoring. After 17 years of service the Navy covers only Sebourn’s health care for five years, “and after that I’m on my own. Once you get out of the military you are still covered for a little while, but your family members are not.”

    And after those five years are over? “That’s a wonderful question,” said Sebourn, who continues to get weaker on his right side, as if that part of his body is ageing prematurely.

    “I understand that the Tomodachi Registry for the 70,000 servicemen and family members was supposed to help with that, and if we came down with health problems 10 or 15 years down the road we would be eligible for health care since it is related to our service.

    “But at the last moment DoD scrapped the program, so I don’t know what will happen to us.”

    Part of his reason for joining the suit against TEPCO was to ensure that the nuclear power company took responsibility for the damage it caused, and covered future health care needs.

    “I’m not upset with the Navy about the radiation – they had no idea what was going on because we had never dealt with this. The navy never lied to us. The navy did the best they could. We were all flying blind.”

    Navigating the Bureaucracy

    As the USS Ronald Reagan and its attendant Strike Force 7 sped away from Japan at the conclusion of Operation Tomodachi, navigators Plym and Enis felt a sense of relief. It was over and they were told by radiation inspection teams that they were safe.

    “They didn’t test us for any internal contamination or anything,” said Plym. “They just ran a machine over our skin. They never did any blood tests or any other type of tests.”

    “We were out there for 80 days,” said Enis, “and towards the end I realized I had a small lump on my lower jaw. I went to see if I could get it checked out, but by then the radiation expert had been flown off the ship.

    “After that, I started getting bad stomach ulcers and two more lumps appeared – one on my lower thigh, and one between my eyes.”

    The Reagan headed for Peugeot Sound for a year of decontamination and general overhaul. Enis, who had enlisted for just four years, enrolled in Olympic College in


    Enis & Plym at Olympic College
    Bremerton, Washington, to productively pass the time while waiting for Plym, who had signed up for a five year tour.

    “One of the big things you say in the navy,” Enis recalled, “is when I get out I’m gonna let my hair grow, and have a big beard. That’s because while you’re in the Navy you have to have that skin-tight face and hair.

    “Well I grew out my hair and had a goatee, and then my hair started falling out. I rarely comb my hair now because if I do, gobs of it come out on the comb. And I find my right hand shakes when I’m writing.”

    Enis, a strapping six-foot two –inch athlete was MVP of Olympic’s college football team, and his time in the 400-meter dash was within two seconds of the 2012 Olympic qualifying time. Now, he has trouble finding the energy to make it through the day.

    “I’m only 25,” he said, “and my body is breaking down. I shouldn’t be hurting like I’m hurting now. I went out of my way to take care of my body, and now it’s like switches are being turned off inside me. It makes me feel like an old man, and I don’t like it.

    “I don’t know what radiation may have done. But I know I didn’t bring this upon myself.”

    He has been informed by the Navy that they “lost” his medical records and, there is no way to trace his current problems to his service on the USS Ronald Reagan. His medical needs, therefore, will not be covered.

    For Plym, the problems at first seemed to be a nuisance. “My menstrual cycle completely went away for the six months,” she said. “They gave me a hundred million


    Jaime Plym
    pregnancy tests because they couldn’t figure out why it stopped. But I wasn’t pregnant.

    “Then, six months later, it came back so heavily I went to the emergency room because I was hemorrhaging and losing so much blood I was fainting.”

    It is, she said, a recurring phenomenon with no apparent medical explanation. A normal menstrual period suddenly morphs into rapid, uncontrolled bleeding requiring medical intervention in a hospital. In March, 2012 she developed asthma and had the first of six bouts of bronchitis before she left the Navy in December.

    The Navy does not consider gynecological problems to be service related. The possibility that inhaling radioactive particles might affect Plym’s lung problems was ruled out when the Defense Department decided that there were no health problems caused by participation in Operation Tomodachi. So she, too, has no health insurance.

    The former navigators have settled in Jacksonville, Florida and are attending St. Johns River State College with the hope of transferring to the University of North Florida. Both have fond memories of their Navy years.

    “Part of me wants to believe that the Navy wouldn’t deliberately do something to hurt the crew,” she said. “I remember the few bits of news we got during that period, and the Japanese said there was no danger from the power plant, the radiation didn’t leak out and they had it all under control.

    “The Japanese lied, and I put the blame on them.”

    Enis, however, is a torn. “The Japanese lied to our government,” he said. “And a part of me wants to think that the Navy wouldn’t do that to the crew, that they wouldn’t put us in a dangerous situation like that on purpose.

    “But then, there’s a part of me that says they just did.”

    –Winifred Bird contributed reporting from Japan

    –Roger Witherspoon writes Energy Matters at www.RogerWitherspoon.com

    A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission;

    Part 1: Radioactive Contamination of American Sailors

    http://bit.ly/12dzbLe

    Part 2: The Navy Life — Into the Abyss

    http://bit.ly/Y5jXCJ

    Part 3: Cat and Mouse with a Nuclear Ghost

    http://bit.ly/VWSmFm

    Related Posts:

    Japan’s Throwaway People and the Fallout from Fukushima

    http://bit.ly/wMMiSK

    White House Moves Swiftly to Replace NRC’s Jaczko

    http://bit.ly/YsPqgF

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