Court rules USS Ronald Reagan sailors can sue Japan over Fukushima radiation exposure

SAN FRANCISCO (KUSI) — A lawsuit filed by United States Navy sailors against the Japanese government over radiation exposure from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant can move forward, a judge ruled Thursday.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that U.S. sailors who were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and other vessels who traveled to Fukushima following a 2011 earthquake are able to sue in the United States.

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed thousands of people and damaged a Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant. Sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and other vessels were sent to Japan to provide relief in what was called “Operation Tomodachi.”

The $1 billion class-action lawsuit, filed in 2012 in San Diego, alleges that The Japanese government conspired to keep the extent of radiation exposure from a leak at the plant a secret, allowing sailors providing aid to be exposed to radiation.

Sailors allege that after being exposed to the radiation, they suffered illnesses like leukemia, ulcers, tumors and cancers.

If the suit is successful, sailors would receive some compensation for medical expenses. 

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