White House Confirms: Obama Will Visit Hiroshima During Visit To Japan
“The White House confirms that President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan during his trip to the G-7 leadership summit this month.
According to a statement released by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the president will make a historic visit to the site of the world’s first nuclear bombing, where he’ll discuss his vision of a future world free from nuclear weapons.
“As the President has said, the United States has a special responsibility to continue to lead in pursuit of that objective as we are the only nation to have used a nuclear weapon,” Rhodes said.
But Rhodes specified that Obama does not intend to “revisit” the decision made the United States to use the weapon to end World War II.
The president will visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and deliver a speech about the historic bombing and it’s context in the history of warfare.”
…Continue reading @ Breitbart
16 US Ships That Aided Japan Still Contaminated With Radiation
– Military Times
“CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Sixteen U.S. ships that participated in relief efforts after Japan’s nuclear disaster five years ago remain contaminated with low levels of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, top Navy officials told Stars and Stripes.
In all, 25 ships took part in Operation Tomadachi, the name given for the U.S. humanitarian aid operations after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami, whose waves reached runup heights of 130 feet, crippled the Fukushima plant, causing a nuclear meltdown.
In the years since the crisis, the ships have undergone cleanup efforts, the Navy said, and 13 Navy and three Military Sealift Command vessels still have some signs of contamination, mostly to ventilation systems, main engines and generators…
RADIATION EFFECTS UNKNOWN
Experts differ on the effects of radiation in general and, specifically, for those involved in Operation Tomodachi.
Eight Reagan sailors, claiming a host of medical conditions they say are related to radiation exposure, filed suit in 2012 against the nuclear plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. The suit asserts that TEPCO lied, coaxing the Navy closer to the plant even though it knew the situation was dire. General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi were later added as defendants for allegations of faulty parts for the reactors.
A spokesman for TEPCO declined to comment for this story because of the sailors’ lawsuit, which was slated to go forward pending appeals in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The illnesses listed in the lawsuit include genetic immune system diseases, headaches, difficulty concentrating, thyroid problems, bloody noses, rectal and gynecological bleeding, weakness in sides of the body accompanied by the shrinking of muscle mass, memory loss, leukemia, testicular cancer, problems with vision, high-pitch ringing in the ears and anxiety.
The list of sailors who have joined the lawsuit, which is making its way through the courts, has grown to 370.
In early 2014, Congress ordered Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson to investigate the claims.
After a peer-reviewed study into the levels of exposure, Woodson reported back to Congress, defending the military’s response and safeguards.
Furthermore, Woodson said, more sailors would have been sick if the levels were high enough to cause the illnesses cited. There were upward of 5,000 sailors aboard the Reagan at the time of the operation. He also said symptoms developed too early to be associated with the operation.
But Shinzo Kimura — a professor at Dokkyo Medical University in Japan who has studied radiation exposure from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Chernobyl and, now, Fukushima — said it wasn’t too early for sailors to show symptoms of exposure-related conditions. Doctors have seen conditions in children living near the plant that surfaced earlier than would normally be expected.
Kimura, hired by the Nihonmatsu city government for his expertise in the field, was the first scientist on the ground taking readings in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. He said each person and the way their body is affected by radiation is different.
While unable to definitively say if the sailors were sickened by the radiation, Kimura reasoned that the levels aboard the Reagan were high enough to cause illnesses. Otherwise, he said, why go through the bother of repeated cleanings to lower radiation levels?
“It is impossible to speculate or calculate how much the doses were before the two decontamination works,” he said. “The U.S. military is very good at risk-management. Considering that, it is assumed that decontaminations were conducted twice because the levels were not favorable.”
…Continue reading @ Military.com
‘Uncertain Radiological Threat’: US Navy Sailors Search for Justice after Fukushima Mission
– Der Spiegel
“On March 11, 2011, the American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan received orders to change course and head for the east coast of Japan, which had just been devastated by a tsunami. The Ronald Reagan had been on its way to South Korea when the order reached it and Captain Thom Burke, who was in charge of the ship along with its crew of 4,500 men and women, duly redirected his vessel. The Americans reached the Japanese coastline on March 12, just north of Sendai and remained in the region for several weeks. The mission was named Tomodachi.
The word tomodachi means “friends.” In hindsight, the choice seems like a delicate one.
Three-and-a-half years later, Master Chief Petty Officer Leticia Morales is sitting in a café in a rundown department store north of Seattle and trying to remember the name of the doctor who removed her thyroid gland 10 months ago. Her partner Tiffany is sitting next to her fishing pills out of a large box and pushing them over to Morales.
“It was something like Erikson,” Morales says. “Or maybe his first name was Eric, or Rick. Oh, I don’t know. Too many doctors.” In the last year-and-a-half, she has seen oncologists, radiologists, cardiologists, blood specialists, kidney specialists, gastrointestinal specialists, lymph node experts and metabolic specialists. “I’m now spending half the month in doctors’ offices,” she says. “This year, I’ve had more than 20 MRTs. I’ve simply lost track.”
She swallows one of the pills, takes a sip of water and smiles wryly.
It was the endocrinologist who asked her if she had been on the Ronald Reagan. During Tomodachi? Yes, Morales told her. Why?
The doctor answered that he had removed six thyroid glands in recent months from sailors who had been on that ship, Morales relates. Only then did Morales make the connection between the worst accident in the history of civilian atomic power and her own fate.
The Fukushima catastrophe changed the world. Nuclear reactors melted down on live television and twice as much radioactive material was released as during the Chernobyl accident in 1986. The disaster drove 150,000 people from their towns and villages, poisoned entire landscapes for centuries and killed hundreds of thousands of farm animals. It also led countries around the world to rethink their usage of nuclear energy. Fukushima is more than just a place-name, it is an historical event — and it would seem to have changed the life of Leticia Morales as well.
It has been a painful experience, and not just because of the poor state of her health. It has also put her into conflict with her deepest convictions. The military she serves has told her that her mission on the coast of Japan was not dangerous to her health, but she is sick all the same. Morales joined the Navy when she was 19-years-old to give her life structure and a purpose, as she says. She spent a significant chunk of her youth in homes and at foster families because her mother was not able to care for her and her siblings. She only got to know her father as a grown woman. After joining, she went to basic training in the Nevada desert and then headed out onto the water.
Nice to Be Needed
Since 2008, she has been responsible for the flight deck on board theRonald Reagan and about 100 sailors. The ship is a floating city, one with room for 100 planes below its decks. Its home port is San Diego, California, but Morales is stationed not far from Seattle in the state of Washington. She has spent a significant portion of her life on the world’s oceans and has sailed past the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, China and Malaysia.
Usually, the crew only learns where they are headed once the ship has already cast off and headed out to sea. But the destination doesn’t often change the routine on board, one focused primarily on training exercises and ship maintenance. Indeed, the missions are primarily intended to show the world that they are there, drawing US borders through the high seas. As such, says Morales, it is particularly nice to actually be needed from time to time.
The Ronald Reagan left San Diego on Feb. 2, 2011, heading for Busan, South Korea for a scheduled stop. It was still early in the vessel’s semi-annual trip around the globe when Captain Thom Burke broke the news over the ship’s PA system that a tsunami had struck Japan. He said the ship was heading for the Japanese coast to provide humanitarian assistance.
Morales hadn’t felt anything, of course, with the open seas gliding smoothly under the ship. Furthermore, she had participated in a similar humanitarian mission after a deadly typhoon had struck the Philippines in 2008, so the diversion to Japan was nothing new for her. “It’s what we do. We help,” she says.
At first, she knew nothing about the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power facility, but says that, during the journey up the coast, she experienced a metallic taste in her mouth. Others noticed it too and Morales says the sailors even exchanged concerned glances. People exposed to radiation often complain of such a metallic taste and Morales now believes that this was the moment when they sailed through the cloud of nuclear radiation that Fukushima sent out over the Pacific.”
…Continue reading more @ Spiegel.de