Tomodachi

Gone Mad by Philip Edmondson

Gone Mad by Philip Edmondson

“There is no safe level of radiation.” (U.S National Academy of Sciences)

“There is no safe level of radiation. Every dose is an overdose.” (George Wald, Nobel Laureate, October 28, 1980)

“Our analysis proves that by any reasonable standard of scientific proof that there is no safe dose or dose rate of ionizing radiation.” (John W. Gofman MD. Ph.D. Associate Director Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.1963-1969)

“Even small amounts of radiation do harm.” (Linus Pauling Ph.D. Nobel Laureate)

“Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” (Henry Kissinger, 1973)

“It’s particularly hard to take being stabbed in the back close to home. There’s always a feeling of betrayal when people of your own group oppose you.” (Caleb Carr)

Tomodachi Sakusen (Operation Friends), was the code name given to a U.S. Armed Forces disaster relief and assistance mission initiated during those fitful hours, following a March 11, 2011, largest ever recorded Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, along the east coast of Japan’s northeastern main island of Honshu. While this event had already resulted in the massive destruction of entire towns swept out to sea, the death of over 20,000 Japanese citizens, as well as unknown numbers of their unborn, there was even more immediate and ongoing devastation on the way, with no end in sight. It very soon became apparent that Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi, six nuclear reactor complex, located in this exact region, had experienced untold damage, catastrophic explosions; and an unstoppable triple meltdown was already well underway.

A humanitarian mission that was launched the following day was to continue on from March 12th through May 4th, 2011, involving a major portion of our U.S. Seventh Fleet, including 24,000 U.S. Service Personnel, 189 aircraft; plus 24 naval vessels, at the cost of some $90 million. (Eric Johnston, Japan Times, March 3, 2012, p.3). Since the nightmare tsunami had rendered the airport at Sendai inoperable, our Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan’s aircraft-carrier group dropped anchor off the coast of Fukushima and served as a fueling platform and staging area for tsunami relief. In addition to their own helicopters, the Reagan offered a multipurpose platform and refueling station for Japanese Self-Defense Forces. (SDF)

Due to our long-standing, strategic political alliance with Japan, and the largest array of military bases outside our continental borders, our country was the most important foreign responder in relief efforts. We provided significant consultation and logistical support during what has become both an acute and an ongoing nuclear crisis. Despite some often fractious relations between our two countries, for a brief time Japanese public sentiment toward the U.S. soared as a result of our spontaneous relief efforts. We now know, however that such good will came at a very high price for many patriotic souls aboard the Reagan. Subsequent information and events have given rise to a highly contentious debate as to the magnitude of Tomodachi’s risk to our military, their families and other citizen’s health and safety.

On February 10th, 2014, which would have been our former president’s 103rd birthday, sailors filed an amended action against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Federal Court in San Diego, California, claiming damage from a wide range of ailments unusual in healthy young adults, resulting from radioactive exposure from four explosions and a triple nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power stations. At this time, at least 81 credible plaintiffs allege that they suffer from multiple ailments and cancers, including leukemia; 40 with testicular cancer, as well as others suffering from blindness, paralysis, thyroid dysfunction and at least one case of birth defects. These ailments are sadly similar to those documented downwind from atmospheric atomic test sites in Nevada and the Pacific, as well as Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Chernobyl in Ukraine. Despite the glib government reassurances, as to “safety”, doomed atolls downwind from those South Pacific tests remain uninhabitable some six decades later. Officially, and not surprisingly, both our U.S. Navy and Japan’s TEPCO maintain that dose levels of radiation emanating from Fukushima toward the Reagan were “safe”. If you are among those willing to believe any of this predictably Orwellian blather about safe levels of radiation, anywhere whatsoever, please contact me since I still have a few of those unsold ocean-front lots for sale here in Arizona. (with color pictures).

Our military’s dedicated men and women assigned to the Reagan’s flight deck, report that during a snowstorm they were enveloped within a warm cloud along with a metallic taste in their mouths. Confusion reigned as they were joking about “radioactive snowball fights” until word came over their ship’s intercom to avoid drinking, cooking, brushing teeth or bathing in desalinized water drawn from a radioactive sea, with no information as to what other hydration options might be available. Not everyone got this message. Even then, and after such a warning, only this ship’s “higher up” command structure and pilots were given iodine to protect their thyroid glands. Returning aircraft and other vehicles were soon found to be highly radioactive. Radiation decontamination officer Michael Sebourn found radiation levels at least 300 times higher than what was considered “safe” on a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

When those who had been out and around Fukushima on rescue helicopters returned and walked on deck, their feet registered 2,500, counts per minute. (CPM over 60 is a cause for concern). On the morning of March 16, 2011, a surveillance helicopter flying over the Daiichi six reactor complex, measured 4 Sieverts per hour. In plain English, that is an astronomical number, which seriously alarmed U.S. nuclear experts, giving further evidence that the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi ‘s reactor 4 was dry and an immediate, absolutely dire, lethal meltdown already underway. (Kyle Cleveland, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias: The Fukushima Nuclear Crisis and the Politics of Uncertainty”, The Asia Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 7, No. 4, February 17, 2014)

With deadly radiological dangers now both known and documented, hapless Reagan deck crews, who dared not question orders, were issued only baby wipes, paper towels, duct tape and latex gloves to carry out their decontamination efforts. No facemasks, respirators, hazmat suits or other protective gear were issued, because military brass didn’t want to “alarm the civilians onboard”. This sounds a lot like a disturbingly familiar military-speak which loosely translates as: “conceal the severity of the event”. (By way of disclosure, my late husband was a radiation oncologist, who retired as a Major, and Flight Surgeon with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command.) Those used wipes, paper and tape were deposited into 55 gallon drums, sealed and likely tossed overboard, as the Navy has done on numerous other occasions. I really don’t know because I wasn’t there, however our Navy’s track record on environmental awareness and nuclear waste disposal is less than stellar.

It is now known and thoroughly documented that for up to 15 years following World War II, crews aboard the USS Calhoun County, dumped thousands of tons of radioactive waste into the Atlantic Ocean (William R. Levesque, “The Atomic Sailors : USS Calhoun County sailors dumped thousands of tons of radioactive waste into ocean.” Tampa Bay Times, 2/17/2014).

According to a December 31, 2013 article in The Wall Street Journal, our Navy dumped at least 47,800 barrels of radioactive waste into an offshore site near the Farallon Islands some 30 miles west of San Francisco. As these containers continue to leak, plutonium levels in the nearby ocean sediment was found to be 1,000 times the “normal” background levels. Sailors aboard the Calhoun County and also those dumping around the Farallons deliberately shot holes into radioactive drums to make sure that they sank. (enenews.com, January 2, 2014)

Aboard the Reagan’s Tomodachi Operation, clean-up and decontamination efforts were complicated by a situation during which sailors were projectile vomiting, losing control of their bowels, and defecating in hallways with explosive and excruciating diarrhea. According to crew member Lindsay Cooper, “we thought gastroenteritis was going around”. Cooper is now dealing with thyroid issues, dramatic weight swings and gynecological problems. Her baby girl was born with multiple genetic defects. Radiation is a known cause of congenital anomalies which can also take two or three generations to manifest. Cooper sought medical help from doctors at a Veteran’s Administration hospital who diagnosed her with PTSD and prescribed an antidepressant. At this point over 250 other military personnel have contacted attorneys concerning their Tomodachi, Fukushima exposures; and it seems likely that there will be many, even thousands more coming forward given the magnitude of exposure. (New Zealand Herald, January 18, 2014)

After leaving Japan and having been refused port entry at several locations including south Korea and Guam, due to radiation concerns, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) eventually arrived at Hawaii’s iconic Pearl Harbor for a port visit, en route to its California home port in San Diego on August 30, 2011. Long after March 2011, this radioactive vessel took part in late summer celebrations of “Fleet Week” in Hawaii, open to the general public, on board ship tours were available, and the Oakland Raiders football team were treated to a lunch aboard the vessel. Friends and family of Navy personnel were welcomed onto the ship for passage along to San Diego. The USS Ronald Reagan was briefly docked in San Diego and the US Navy and San Diego Chargers held a football camp on board for 100 kids before the radiation-stricken behemoth sailed north. After arriving in Carrier Row, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington to be de-contaminated, it was re-fitted over an 18 month period, and its radioactive waste transported by train to the Hanford nuclear reservation. (Yoichi Shimatsu, rense.com, May 23, 2013)

Sad to say, but this well-funded Hanford nuclear facility, half the size of the state of Rhode Island, releases at least 330 lbs of uranium directly into the Colombia River each year and for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons. As a result, Hanford presently qualifies as our nation’s most polluted nuclear site. One might therefore, surmise that those so called decontamination procedures likely included radioactive debris dumped somewhere along the 40 miles of unlined trenches containing nuclear waste. (Ricky Henne, chargers.com, August 28, 2013)

The USS Ronald Reagan then returned to San Diego. Critics say that this vessel is too radioactive to operate or to scrap and should be sunk, as were a number of ships contaminated by atmospheric contamination as a result of nuclear weapons-testing in the South Pacific. Then again, nuclear powered, Nimitz class aircraft carriers are so very expensive…and so our Navy has announced as of January 14, 2014 that the USS Ronald Reagan will replace the USS George Washington, currently deployed in Yokosuka Japan. Nothing to see here folks, just move along now … Our military’s widespread deployment of depleted uranium was harmless, and Agent Orange held no danger to anyone who is not a plant… national security/no accountability, so, not to worry, our Veteran’s Administration will always take excellent care of those who serve.

In light of the March 2011 events and their immediate and ongoing consequences to our military personnel, Ronald Reagan‘s iconic message may now have taken on an entirely new and unexpected level of meaning…“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I am here to help”.

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