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Billions Sought In Fukushima Radiation Lawsuits

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More and more people, in both the United States and Japan, are suing over radiation exposure from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that suffered crippling damage from Japan’s March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

In December 2012, as we reported, eight current and former U.S. Navy personnel and a 1-year-old girl born to a servicewoman who was pregnant at the time of the disaster sued the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The lawsuit says that TEPCO deceived the Navy about radiation levels from the damaged plant and that therefore the service members were exposed to far more radiation than was revealed at the time.

On March 12, the number of plaintiffs increased to 26, and 100 more are in the process of joining the suit, according to Stars and Stripes, a Department of Defense–affiliated but editorially independent newspaper that covers the U.S. military.

Stars and Stripes said the plaintiffs faced “criticism from their peers that they’re just looking for an easy payoff and claims from the Department of Defense that the amounts of radiation they were exposed to don’t pose serious health risks.” It continued:

Nevertheless, the plaintiffs claim they have suffered a number of ailments they say are linked to their exposure, ranging from headaches and difficulty concentrating to rectal bleeding, thyroid problems, cancer, tumors and gynecological bleeding.

Also this month, on the second anniversary of the tsunami, 800 Japanese residents sued the Japanese government, demanding that it and TEPCO restore the Fukushima region to its predisaster state and seeking 55,000 yen (about $580) apiece in compensation for every month since the disaster. Their lawyer, Izutaro Managi, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper of London:

These residents want their lives and their community back. They want to rebuild Fukushima without radiation or nuclear power plants.

The Telegraph reports that the government maintains a 19-mile exclusion zone around the reactor and that 160,000 residents have been told nuclear contamination may prevent them from ever returning to their homes. About 300,000 people across the country still live in temporary housing. With only two of Japan’s 50 workable nuclear power plants operating, the country also faces energy shortages.

At the Fukushima plant, engineers still can’t get close enough to the reactor cores to assess their status. A Fortune magazine story published online Wednesday says Japan’s nuclear power industry failed to update emergency backups or develop robots that could contain and assess damage because both the industry and the government proclaimed that all of Japan’s reactors were “absolutely safe.”

Even now, no robots’ electronic circuitry can withstand the levels of radiation inside the plant. Believe it or not, cleanup inside the reactor buildings is being done, a few seconds at a time, by humans. Fortune quoted Hiroyuki Watanabe, a city councillor in Iwaki City, 30 kilometers from the reactor, as saying:

Untrained casual laborers used dustpans to scoop up highly radioactive water into buckets, dashing in and out of doors to reduce their exposure times.

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What “bright professionals” would become eligible for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement through a bill introduced in the U.S. Congress earlier this month? Radiology assistants. For details, see our Facebook page.

Related seminar: ALARA – CT (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)

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