U.S. sailors sue TEPCO over nuclear accident

U.S. Navy sailors have sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. over radiation exposure in the wake of the nuclear accident at its Fukushima No. 1 power plant in northeastern Japan.

In the suit filed with a U.S. federal district court in San Diego, the eight crew members of the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered aircraft carrier said they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation due to TEPCO’s false information about the dangers of radiation leaks from the plant.  The plaintiffs seek $140 million in payments including damages, according to the reports.

The warship was sent to waters off northeastern Japan after the region was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. At the Fukushima No. 1 plant, three reactors experienced core meltdown following the natural disaster. The plaintiffs participated in Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. military rescue and support operation for tsunami-hit Japan.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs said the U.S. Navy trusted false information about the health and safety from TEPCO, according to the reports.  They also claimed that data available only to TEPCO at that time showed that radiation doses in the area where the plaintiffs worked had reached levels received by people who lived at the same distance from the Chernobyl plant and developed cancer after the 1986 accident, according to the reports.

The reports say the plaintiffs also accused the Japanese government of announcing misleading information. They claimed Tokyo kept saying that the accident would not pose any danger of radioactive pollution to the U.S. aircraft carrier or its crew.