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Published: 26 December, 2012, 23:36

Workers removing fresh nuclear fuel (black pole at centre), for the first time since last year’s tsunami-sparked crisis, from the spent fuel pool of the Unit 4 nuclear reactor building at TEPCO’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture (AFP Photo / Tepco)

American sailors have filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government for allegedly lying about the health risks they faced while assisting in rescue efforts after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Crewmembers from the USS Ronald Reagan filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in San Diego, California this week in an attempt to hold Japan accountable for any long-term damage they’ll caused during “Operation Tomadachi,” the spring 2011 relief effort that sent sailors near the coast of Japan to assist in the days after an earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged the island nation and caused a level 7 meltdown at three reactors in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

The plaintiffs, eight sailors from the 5,500 or so that were aboard the USS Reagan at the time, say Japan did not act honestly in regards to explaining the severity of the meltdown and the risks they faced in involving themselves in the relief efforts. They are asking the state-owned Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) for $10 million in compensatory damages, as well as another $30 million in punitive damages for fraud, negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, public and private nuisance and defective design, Courthouse News Service reports.