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Radiation Exposure May Be Linked To Cancer Lawsuits

Melanie H. Muhlstock
  • Avvo
  • Radiation Exposure Environmental Contamination Side Effects May Be Linked To Cancer Lawsuits

    When the USS Ronald Reagan responded to Japan's 2011 tsunami, many on board the craft were not advised that the ship's desalination system was pulling in sea water that was being used for drinking, cooking, and bathing from near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Those on the vessel and its sister ship, the USS Essex, spent several months near Fukushima and are now exhibiting serious signs of radiation poisoning and other deadly diseases, according to a FoxNews report.

    U.S. Navy members who served on board the Regan and the Essex report radiation illnesses including, radiation poisoning that is worsening, thyroid cancer, testicular cancer, leukemia, brain tumors, chronic bronchitis, hemorrhaging, and lumps throughout the body. At least one lawsuit has been filed against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) over allegations that TEPCO put off advising the U.S. Navy that the tsunami caused nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima that spewed massive amounts of radiation-contaminated water into the sea. This contaminated seawater was ultimately sent into the ships' water systems, FoxNews reported.

    Those on board were told that if they avoided the plume, there would be no health issues. Now, lawsuits allege that TEPCO caused individuals, and the U.S. Navy, to go into a contaminated area close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

    Former Prime Minister, Naoto Jan A, in a December 12, 2013-admission before members of the Japanese press, stated that the first meltdown at Fukushima occurred just five hours after the tsunami, and not the day after, as had been reported, according to WTKR News. This may mean that the Japanese government was aware that radiation was being leaked, but did not advise the U.S. Navy.

    Radiation Exposure Contamination Side Effects Link To Cancer Lawsuits

    Court Agrees to Expedite $1 Billion Fukushima Lawsuit

    In April 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed to expedite a $1 billion lawsuit filed on behalf of sailors who suffered cancer and other injuries, allegedly due to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The lawsuit alleges Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is to blame for the catastrophe, and seeks compensation to help pay for medical bills, funeral costs, and other associated expenses.

    According to Law360, the plaintiffs are a group of U.S. Navy sailors who assisted in humanitarian relief efforts after a tsunami in Fukushima, Japan. Their lawsuit alleges TEPCO's negligence caused the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant to meltdown, resulting in radiation exposure. Allegedly, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant would have been able to handle the earthquake if not for TEPCO's negligence.

    Since many members of the class are "suffering and dying," they want to speed the litigation process along as much as possible, Law360 reports. The appeals court has granted the request, and stated in a brief order that the case would be processed "as soon as possible."

    "The balance of appellee service members are experiencing various stages of cancer and other ailments associated with radiation exposure," the motion indicated, according to Law360. "With each passing month, appellees' conditions are worsening and many will most probably die before seeing a resolution to their lawsuits. For others, a prompt resolution will bring them the funds required to obtain specialized and advanced medical treatments that could, if employed early enough, save their lives."

    Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Disaster: More Babies Born with Hypothyroidism in California

    Many have been attempting to quantify the fallout caused by Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in early 2011.

    In 2012, Japan surveyed 200,000 children who lived near the Fukushima plant and found precancerous lesions on 56% of those under age 18, which was described as off-the-charts compared to average.

    Prior studies found that radiation from the initial meltdown at Fukushima reached the West Coast of the United States within only five days.

    An ongoing study for the Open Journal of Pediatrics looked at statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the amount of radiation in the air in the weeks and months following the Fukushima tsunami (Levels obviously were much higher on the West Coast.) In addition, the study also notes California's official statistics for babies born with hypothyroidism, a condition caused by an underactive thyroid; an underactive thyroid, in turn, is a known consequence of exposure to radioactive iodine, which is only created in years-old unexploded atomic bombs, as well as nuclear reactor emissions, according to a published report.

    Our environmental radiation lawyers are currently offering free legal consultations to any individual sickened from exposure to radioactive materials. You may be eligible for compensation under a variety of federal and state statutes. If your health or that of a loved one has been endangered by radioactive materials in the environment, we urge you to contact one of our environmental radiation lawyers today to protect your legal rights.

    Radioactive Waste

    Radioactive (or nuclear) waste is a byproduct from nuclear reactors, fuel processing plants, and institutions such as hospitals and research facilities. It also results from the decommissioning of nuclear reactors and other nuclear facilities that are permanently shut down. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission separates waste into two broad classifications: high-level or low-level waste.

    High-level radioactive waste is uranium fuel that has been used in a nuclear power reactor and is "spent" or no longer efficient in generating power to the reactor to produce electricity. Spent fuel is thermally hot as well as being highly radioactive, requiring remote handling and shielding.

    High-level wastes are hazardous to humans and other life forms because of their high radiation levels that are capable of producing fatal doses during short periods of direct exposure. For example, ten years after removal from a reactor, the surface dose rate for a typical spent fuel assembly exceeds 10,000 rem/hour, whereas a fatal whole-body dose for humans is about 500 rem (if received all at one time). Furthermore, if constituents of these high-level wastes were to get into ground water or rivers, they could enter into food chains. Although the dose produced through this indirect exposure is much smaller than a direct exposure dose, there is a greater potential for a larger population to be exposed.

    At this time there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste. Since the only way radioactive wastes finally become harmless is through decay, which for some isotopes contained in high-level wastes can take hundreds of thousands of years, the wastes must be stored in a way that provides adequate protection for very long times.

    Low-level wastes includes items that have become contaminated with radioactive material or have become radioactive through exposure to neutron radiation. This waste typically consists of contaminated protective shoe covers and clothing, wiping rags, mops, filters, reactor water treatment residues, equipment and tools, luminous dials, medical tubes, swabs, injection needles, syringes, and laboratory animal carcasses and tissues. The radioactivity can range from just above background levels found in nature to much higher levels in certain cases such as parts from inside the reactor vessel in a nuclear power plant.

    This low-level waste may be highly radioactive, but its half-life is relatively short (tens to hundreds of years). Most low-level radioactive wastes are solidified, put into drums, and buried in 20-foot-deep trenches, which are then backfilled and covered.

    Three commercial facilities in the United States currently accept low-level radioactive waste: Richland, Washington; Barnwell, South Carolina; and Clive, Utah. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also operates seven other disposal facilities for low-level radioactive wastes produced by the Department of Defense and its contractors.

    A number of incidents have occurred when radioactive material was disposed of improperly, shielding during transport was defective, or when it was simply abandoned or even stolen from a waste store. In other cases of radioactive waste accidents, lakes or ponds with radioactive waste accidentally overflowed into rivers during exceptional storms. From 1971 through 1998, in the United States, there have been 401 transportation accidents involving radioactive material.

    Parker | Waichman Logo Legal Help for Victims of Environmental Radiation
    If you or someone you know sustained a radiation related illness as a result of exposure to environmental radiation, you may have valuable legal rights. We urge you to contact our environmental radiation lawyers today by filling out our online form, or calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.


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