The US Military Radiological Expertise in the Context of Fukushima

The Asia Pacific Journal is a high quality journal. It describes itself in the following way:”In-depth critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific . . . and the world. The Asia-Pacific Journal seeks to illuminate the geopolitics, economics, history, society, culture, international relations and forces for change in the modern and contemporary Asia-Pacific.” (http://japanfocus.org/site/view/1103)

The publication coodinators are based at universities and other facilities of higher learning around the world and include:

Andrew DeWit Rikkyo University, Tokyo, dewit@rikkyo.ne.jp
Geoffrey Gunn Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, nag-gunn@net.nagasaki-u.ac.jp
Laura Hein Northwestern University, Chicago, l-hein@northwestern.edu
Gavan McCormack Australian National University, Canberra, gavan@coombs.anu.edu.au

John McGlynn, Independent Political and Economic Analyst, Tokyo, jmcgl@gol.com
David McNeill Sophia University, Tokyo, davidaamcneill@hotmail.com
R.Taggart Murphy Tsukuba University, Tokyo, murphy@mbaib.gsbs.tsukuba.ac.jp

Matthew Penney Concordia University, Montreal, penneym@hotmail.com

Norimatsu Satoko, Peace Philosophy Center, Vancouver, info@peacephilosophy.com

Mark Selden Cornell University, Ithaca, mark.selden@cornell.edu
Yuki Tanaka Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima, tanaka-t@peace.hiroshima-cu.ac.jp

The publication is there based upon the qualified abilities of many people around the world who possess a broad width of insight across specialties. Each coordinator possesses in depth knowledge in their specific sphere of qualified knowledge.

Such a skill set among a group of people involved in the publication of material pertaining to the events within Asia Pacific underpins the Journal. It would be a rare daily newspaper which could match this level of qualified expertise in matters pertaining to Asia Pacific.

I point this out because often, the information presented by the Asia Pacific Journal runs against the grain of the attitudes conveyed within the less competant press. There exists in Australia a “she’ll be right” attitude to events in general, and specifically in relation to Japan and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a downright insipid reluctance to admit events not first read about in Australian broadsheets. Tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappings are given the role of morning tea conversation leaders in Australia and if some poor smuck persists in talking about Fukushima and its effects, well they had better watch out. Especially if they cannot hold page 65 of the Adelaide Advertiser to back themselves up.

And generally, with rare exceptions, such people can’t.

Hence my affirmation that the Asia Pacific Journal is a worthy alternative to the hack Murdoch Press. While it is noted that the Adelaide Advertiser was a publication that published, thoughout the 1980s, information of great relevance to the impact of the British Atomic Tests in Australia, and was the vehicle by which South Australians learned of Dr Cutter’s information regarding the Black Mist incident, times have changed. Apparently. In the context of the Royal Commission into the Atomic Tests, where a ground swell of public opinion and public interest was forged by the persistence of nuclear veterans, Aboriginal people and politicans, the commerical reality is that Adelaide press had an easy time. People were ready to read material about nuclear issues in the context of the times.

Woe betide anyone who introduces the subject matter into a social setting in which nuclear industry has set the social tone. Sputh Australians are generally quite proud of the hole in the ground called Roxby Downs and its associated slag heaps and dams. It’s cutting edge. Tomorrow’s wonder fuel, clean and safe, with the nastier stuff collected in shallow ponds and heaps, with the barely radioactive uranium processed into yellow cake for shipment all over the world, including Japan. It will save the planet we are told. The odd multiple reactor failure cannot be allowed to interfere with this assessment of the peaceful atom. The mad scramble in the press which breathlessly proclaimed that all was predicted and predictable in the wake of 3/11, served, locally, as a bid to shore up public support for the expanision of the South Australian uranium mines, promoted as it was by the governemnt as the being the economic saviour of the state of South Australia. Any information presented by anyone which challenged these proclaimations being seen as anti-South Australian. Well, post 3/11 the uranium stock price fell, BHP Biliton reveresed its decision on the expansion of the uranium mines, the State Premier was left with egg on his face and if the government pronouncements on the necessity of the uranium mining expansion are to be believed, we are about to go broke.

So there is some local self interest in not accessing the news which originates from other countries and which concentrates on information which presents a world view contrary to that so aggressively promoted by nuclear industry in this state. Bombs are bombs and reactors are reactors, and they are completely different things for sure. However, fallout is fallout and reactors can produce more nuclear fallout per second for days, weeks and months than any atomic bomb. The big bang of a bomb is one of the weapon effects and is irrelevant in the debate about nuclear pollution. While the nuclear industry would have it that no nuclear pollution left the Fukushima Diiachi site, and that the disaster is over, the fact is a large part of the downwind areas from the stricken plant are contaminated. And that the evacuation zones do not take into account the actual deposition and movement of the fallout. The wind and rain do not act according to the dictates of government. While the press in Adelaide may well minimise the situation, and may well refuse to correct the frothy optimistic statements issued by “nuclear experts” operating within the social settings so carefully engineered in South Australia over the years since the decision to expand the uranium mines were taken, reality in fact moves on. And like or not, social pressure or not, it has to be said that the nuclear disaster in Japan is just that. It is ongoing and we are into the third year of consequences. In this third year of consequence, one of the stories which has emerged is the experience of the US MIlitary in Japan at the time of the disaster.

My baseline position in these matters is my training, as basic as it was. The baseline knowledge imparted to me by the Australian Army in relation to my duties in a work environment which stored and used radioactive Cobalt, radium and other substances was this: A sealed source properly handled is safe. A sealed source which becomes unsealed may present a hazard. Particularly when the source becomes unsealed accidently or in an uncontrolled manner.

I am of the view that the failure of four reactors in Japan in 2011 was a massive unsealing of sources. And while the venting of the reactors prior to their explosive partial destruction may have been controlled, the actual venting was dictated to humans by the state of the reactors.

With the failure of cooling, the reactors emitted large amounts of substances which should have remained sealed. There are consequences to this, despite the fact that the local offices of Bechtel and General Atomics would rather South Australians have a cursory awareness of this rather than detailed insight into it.

The SA Minister of Mines may well be happy to live the Fukushima exclusion zone, believing in the alleged beneficial dose. Fine. I would not be. He would be happy to live close in, I would not be. Many people in Japan have moved not just on the basis of opinion, but rather on the mandate of government. A government which, in ordering evacuations, took into account not just the presence of unsealed sources in the living area, but the economic reality of the situation. Japan had to keep functioning. The Prime Minister 12 months after the explosions recounted that Japan had to “fight”.

…………………………………………………………………………………

Throughut the Cold War period the United States Armed Forces developed a very great capablity for fighting nuclear war. This capablity included battlefield tactics designed to mnimise immediate casualties from fallout. Of all the services, it was the Navy which held the most self contained knowledge. Throughout the Western world, as I understand it, it was the navies of NATO and SEATO nations which held the most integral knowledge. A ship at sea is on its own, and must be able to defend itself. Radiological safety knowledge was critical in the Cold War setting. Today nuclear powered vessels are a reality. The reactors on board such vessels mandate a level of skill and expertise far in excess of my feeble knowledge. However I can say without fear of contradiction, that naval nuclear reactors represent a very large sealed source.

I have taken it for granted that such vessels possess on board nuclear safety expertise. So far, in the matter of the contamination of the USS Ronald Reagan and its aircraft and personnel, the Naval radiation safety officers, as far as I am aware or have read, have not been quoted.

In the matter of contamination US Military plant, equipment and vehicles, including aircraft and ships, the most insidious contamination will be of the internal engine parts, the combustion chambers, turbines, pistons/cylinders and ducts. This was found to be the case by the Royal Australian Air Force during the British Nuclear Tests in Australia. The Australian aircraft did not fly through detonating bombs, they flew through clouds of nuclear fallout. And while reactors are not the same as bombs, the fallout clouds generated by both when reactors fail, present as radiological hazards in essentially the same way. The fuel available in a bomb is limied. In comparison, the fuel available which may become an unsealed source in the case of multiple reactors failure is potentially extremely massive.

And so, wondering why the US Armed Forces appeared to be so unprepared for the radiological hazard presented to it – when such a hazard would have been routinely trained for, in a generic sense, not so many years ago, the following article published by the Asia Pacific Journal raises for me many questions regarding the safety of the crews involved, and the state of readiness of US Armed Forces, particularly in the setting of a nuclear powered craft. I apply these concepts, and form my judgements on the basis of my experience, such as it was, in the knowledge that once the US Armed Forces were a resource. The officiers in charge of my safety were trained in part by the United States and I find it tragic that the crew of a US nuclear vessel were not, apparently, sufficiently trained to have access to the necessary drills and equipment which would have enabled a set of instant actions aimed at preserving the mission and their health.

The US military knows it must be ready for anything. So what happened to their old knowledge and drills?

………………………………………………………………………………

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 11, No. 4. March 18, 2013.
Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Nearly 70,000 Americans

ROGER WITHERSPOON

Who are the victims of Japan’s great 3.11 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear meltdown? This journal has documented the heavy price paid by the more than 20,000 who died in the tsunami, the hundreds of thousands driven from their homes by the combination of tsunami and meltdown, and the nuclear workers who have fought to bring the radiation at the Tepco plants under control at risk of their lives. Roger Witherspoon extends this analysis to the US servicemen and women of Operation Tomodachi who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation with little preparation or protection. And in many cases with no access to medical care after completing their terms of service. Some of them are now suing Tepco for lying to the US government and Navy in a hope of recovering damages and treatment, as described and documented below. This is the first of two major articles on their plight and their fight. Asia-Pacific Journal

The Department of Defense has decided to walk away from an unprecedented medical registry of nearly 70,000 American service members, civilian workers, and their families caught in the radioactive clouds blowing from the destroyed nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

The decision to cease updating the registry means there will be no way to determine if patterns of health problems emerge among the members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, Corps of Engineers, and Navy stationed at 63 installations in Japan with their families. In addition, it leaves thousands of sailors and Marines in the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group 7 on their own when it comes to determining if any of them are developing problems caused by radiation exposure.

The strike group was detoured from its South Pacific duties and brought to Fukushima for Operation Tomodachi, using the Japanese word for “friend.” It was an 80-day humanitarian aid and rescue mission in the wake of the earthquake and massive tsunami that decimated the northern coastline and killed more than 20,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Tsunami Strikes

The rescue operation was requested by the Japanese Government and coordinated by the US State Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Departments of Defense and Energy. In addition to the USS Ronald Reagan with its crew of 5,500, the Strike Group included four destroyers – The Preble, McCampbell, Curtis Wilbur, and McCain – the cruiser USS Chancellorsville, and several support ships (link).

It was the participants in Operation Tomodachi – land based truck drivers and helicopter crews, and carrier based aircraft and landing craft – who were repeatedly trying to guess where the radioactive clouds were blowing and steer paths out of the way. It was unsuccessful on more than one occasion, according to Defense Department records and participants, resulting in efforts to decontaminate ships travelling through contaminated waters and cleansing helicopters only to send them right back into radioactive clouds.

So far, however, more than 150 service men and women who participated in the rescue mission have since developed a variety of medical issues – including tumors, tremors, internal bleeding, and hair loss – which they feel were triggered by their exposure to radiation. They do not blame the Navy for their predicament, but are joined in an expanding law suit against the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, for providing false information to the US officials about the extent of spreading radiation from its stricken reactors at Fukushima. And the decision by the Defense Department to abandon the registry leaves them on their own.

Jobs are compartmentalized at sea explained Navy Quartermasters Maurice Enis and Jaime Plym, two of the navigators on the carrier Reagan. Few of those on board knew there were dangerous radioactive plumes blowing in the wind and none knew what ocean currents might be contaminated. They did know there were problems when alarms went off.

“We make our own water through desalinization plants on board,” said Plym, a 28-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida. “But it comes from the ocean and the ocean was contaminated. So we had to get rid of all the water on the ship and keep scouring it and testing it till it was clean.

“You have a nuclear power plant inside the ship that uses water for cooling, and they didn’t want to contaminate our reactor with their reactors’ radiation.”

But avoiding it was not easy. It meant going far enough out to sea where there were no contaminated currents, washing down the ship and its pipes, and then going back towards shore.

“We could actually see the certain parts of the navigation chart where radiation was at, and to navigate through that was nerve wracking,” said Enis. “The general public, like the ship, didn’t really know where it was or what it was and relied on word-of-mouth and rumors. We have more information, but there was no absolute way for us to know how much radiation was out there because we were still being told by the (Japanese) power company that we shouldn’t worry.

“We stayed about 80 days, and we would stay as close as two miles offshore and then sail away. It was a cat and mouse game depending on which way the wind was blowing. We kept coming back because it was a matter of helping the people of Japan who needed help. But it would put us in a different dangerous area. After the first scare and we found there was radiation when they (the power company) told us there was none, we went on lockdown and had to carry around the gas masks.”

When it came to getting timely information on radiation, the Americans on land were just as much at sea. Gregory Jaczko, then Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, urged the evacuation of all Americans within 50 miles of the stricken reactors. And the Defense Department evacuated women and children from the Yokosuka Naval Base, located 300 miles south of Fukushima, after sensors picked up increases in background radiation.

Information was hard to come by, exacerbated by the rigidity of the Japanese bureaucracy. Two nuclear experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Lochbaum, who has worked as a consultant for the NRC and industry, and Ed Lyman, a nuclear physicist, have examined thousands of government emails and cable traffic during a confusing period when the data base shifted by the hour and concrete information was hard to come by.

“After the explosion in Fukushima Daiichi Unit #4 the Japanese were not able to get enough water into the building to keep the spent fuel pool cool,” Lochbaum said. “So the US airlifted a concrete pumper truck all the way from Australia to an American naval base in the northern part of the island. And the Japanese would not let it leave the base because it wasn’t licensed to travel on Japanese roads. Given the magnitude of their problems, that seemed to be the wrong priority.

Fukushima Daiichi Reactors Explode

“But the Japanese culture is more like a symphony, where everyone follows the conductor’s lead. Whereas American society is more like a jazz ensemble where everyone is playing together, but improvisation is prized.”

The inability to get cohesive, trustworthy information from the Japanese hampered the American rescue effort.

Michael Sebourn, senior chief mechanic for the helicopter squadron based at Atsugi,about 60 miles from Fukushima, recalled that “after the earthquake and tsunami we were given one day notice to pack up the command and go to Misawa, Japan Air Base to provide relief efforts to the Sendai and Fukushima areas. All of the other squadrons were evacuating to Guam. There was a big possibility that the base at Atsugi would be shut down and we would never be returning. We were told to put our names and phone numbers on the dashboards of the cars because we would probably not get them back.

“We were in Misawa 3 ½ weeks, working every day, flying mission after mission after mission to pick people up, rescue people, ferry supplies and things like that. There were a few nuclear technicians scanning individuals coming back from missions. Many times they would cut off their uniforms.” The decontamination team cut off their uniforms to avoid touching them and further contaminating them.

Sebourn was sent to Guam for three days of intensive training and became the designated radiation officer. It wasn’t easy.

“This was a completely unprecedented event,” he said. “We had never dealt with radiation before. We were completely brand new to everything and everyone was clueless. We had had drills dealing with chemical and biological warfare. But we never had any drills dealing with radiation. That was nuclear stuff and we didn’t do nuclear stuff. The aviation guys had never dealt with radiation before. We had never had aircraft that was radiated. So we were completely flying blind.”

There were rules for Sebourn’s group of mechanics. They scanned the returning helicopters for radiation, and then removed any contaminated parts and put them in special containers filled with water and stored on an isolated tarmac. It began snowing in Misawa so the group moved back to their base at Atsugi, closer to Fukushima. Sebourn tracked varying radiation levels in units called Corrected Counts Per Minute on their electronic detectors.

“Normal outside radiation exposure is between five and 10 CCPM,” he said. “And that’s from the sun. At Atsugi, the background readings were between 200 and 300 CCPM in the air. It was all over. The water was radiated. The ground was radiated. The air was radiated.

“The rule was if there was anything over a count of 500 you needed special gloves. Over 1,000 CCPM and you needed a Tyvek radiation suit. And if it was over 5,000 you needed an entire outfit – suit, respirator, goggles, and two sets of gloves. You couldn’t put a contaminated radiator back into the helicopters – they had to be replaced. I remember pulling out a radiator and it read 60,000 CCPM.”

But in the end, the safety equipment may not have been enough.

The Tomodachi Medical Registry, developed over a two year-period and completed at the end of 2012, was a collective effort of the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs launched at the insistence of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. (link)

It was an exhaustive registry essential to develop a medical baseline from which to determine if there were any long lasting repercussions from exposure to radioactivity – particularly iodine and cesium – spewing for months from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1 through 4 into both the air and the sea.

The Registry was unparalleled in its depth. The Defense Department’s 252-page assessment of radiation doses the 70,000 Americans may have been exposed to is broken down by a host of factors, including proximity to Fukushima, the type of workbeing done and its impact on breathing rates, changing weather patterns, sex, size, and age. In the latter category children were divided into six different age groups, reflecting their varying susceptibility to radiation. (link)

In addition, the report states, “over 8,000 individuals were monitored for internal radioactive materials and the results of those tests were compared with the calculated doses.”

In the end, however, the Department concluded that their estimates of the maximum possible whole body and thyroid doses of contaminants were not severe enough to warrant further examination.

Navy spokesman Lt. Matthew Allen, in a written statement, said “The DoD has very high confidence in the accuracy of the dose estimates, which were arrived at using highly conservative exposure assumptions (i.e., assuming individuals were outside 24 hours a day for the 60 days in which environmental radiation levels were elevated and while breathing at higher than normal rates).

“The estimated doses were closely reviewed by the Veterans’ Advisory Board on Dose Reconstruction and by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements who both agreed that the methods used to calculate the estimates were appropriate and the results accurate. In addition the dose estimates were consistent with the estimates made by the Japanese government and by the World Health Organization.”

Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith added that as a result of the agency’s decision that there was no serious contamination, “There are no health surveillance measures required for any member of the DoD-affiliated population who was on or near the mainland of Japan following the accident and subsequent radiological release from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station beginning on or about March 11, 2011.”

But there are skeptics of the Defense Department’s blanket conclusion that there was not enough radiation poured into the environment to warrant continuous monitoring of the men, women, and children living and working there.

“Radiation does not spread in a homogenous mix,” said Lochbaum. “There are hot spots and low spots and nobody knows who is in a high zone or in a low zone. Who knows what the actual radiation dose to an individual is? There are no measurements of what they consumed in water and food.

“This is the Navy’s best attempt to take a few data points they have and extrapolate over the entire group. They took a lot of measurements, but those represent just a point in time. It’s like taking a strobe light outside to take a picture of a nighttime scene. Every time the strobe flashes you will get shots in spots of the area. But do you really capture all of the darkness?”

The Navy Life – Into the Abyss

To the US Government, Operation Tomodachi was just another big humanitarian aid and rescue mission in which the nearest Navy fleet and many land-based personnel rushed to the aid of an ally in need. In this case, the northeast coast of Japan had been flattened by a massive earthquake and tsunami, which destroyed infrastructure, killed some 20,000 citizens and left 315,000 refugees, many of whom may never return to their homes in contaminated areas.

Operation Tomodachi – named after the Japanese word for Friend – began as a large logistical exercise. It seemed that way to the American sailors, both land based and in the USS Ronald Reagan Aircraft Carrier Strike Group. The view from Washington was that Operation Tomodachi would enhance the long ties between allies.

Then everything changed.

The nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi overheated and melted down, creating a hydrogen cloud in the process, which exploded, spiking radiation readings on detection monitors across Japan. Hydrogen from Unit 3 migrated through a shared venting system into Unit 4 and blew off its roof as well, exposing the spent fuel pool and its 1,500 bundles of fuel rods containing a lethal mix of cesium, iodine and plutonium.

Gregory Jaczko

Transcripts of meetings and conference calls hosted by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko showed steadily increasing concern as newer data contradicted previous data and measurements of radiation from the Navy differed markedly from the information coming from the Japanese government and TEPCO, the giant utility which owned the stricken reactors. (NRC’s Operation Center Fukushima Transcript. Note large censored passages, including the identity of the speaker)

Something New: Radiation

Operation Tomodachi began with the request for help from the Japanese Embassy to Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs who quickly turned to Gregory Jaczko, then chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would regularly brief President Barak Obama on the escalating difficulties on land. ……….

What had begun as a rescue mission was being increasingly complicated by spreading radiation from Unit 1 at the six-reactor, Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear complex. At least three other reactors were in danger of failing, including the spent fuel pool of reactor Unit 4, holding 1,535 bundles of irradiated fuel.

On March 12, as the USS Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 7 arrive two miles off the coast, Fukushima Unit 1 blows up. Unit 3 would explode March 14, and the hydrogen gases migrating through a shared vent would also destroy the containment building at Unit 4, exposing the spent fuel pool to the air. Unit 2 would explode March 15. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) would announce that most of the fuel in Units 1,2, and 3 are intact. They were not. They had fused into a molten mass and were oozing through the bottom of their destroyed reactors.

The Japanese government, not wanting to acknowledge that the situation was getting out of control, did not activate its military, the Self Defense Forces, to airlift water to the stricken Unit 4 and continuously drop it on the spent fuel to keep it from exploding in a nuclear fuel fire. According to Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese newspaper, which obtained the communications between Tokyo and Japan’s embassy in Washington, Mullen sent a cable to Fujisaki Ichiro, Japan’s ambassador to the US, stating that the SDF should be used to cool the reactors:

“The U.S. military believes the No. 4 reactor is in danger. It feels every step should be taken to cool the reactor, including using the SDF,” the cable said. “The United States has made various preparations to deal with the nuclear accident. The president is also very concerned…” (link)

At the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Jack Grobe is leading a crisis team in the 24-hour Operations Center in nearly constant conference calls with Jaczko and a team in Japan. Their previous scenarios – including the long held belief that it was impossible to have multiple meltdowns in a single nuclear complex, and that the containment structure would stop radiation from spreading from a reactor to the environment – have proved disastrously wrong and their scenarios for keeping people safe from spreading radiation are being called into question.

The NRC’s redacted transcript of those conversations shows that after the explosion at Unit 4 Grobe says in exasperation, “The projections on releases with the containment intact are completely insignificant now.

“I mean, this is beginning to feel like an emergency drill where everything goes wrong and you can’t, you know, you can’t imagine how these things, all of them, can go wrong.”

But the NRC released several daily press releases, all reassuring the public that there was no danger to the public.

And on the high seas and at the American naval installations, the sailors of Operation Tomodachi were on their own.

This is part one of a two part series by Roger Witherspoon.

Roger Witherspoon writes Energy Matters.

……………………………………………………………………………..

The Japanese government abandoned search, rescue and recovery in the fallout affected areas of the Japanese coast, adjacent to the reactors. This did not resume until the winter has passed, from recollection.

There is no doubt that US personnel on naval vessels were sited within the radius of what would be declared the exclusion zone. US Naval vessels used to have an integral Radiac capablity. That is, regardless of what Japan did or did not say, regardless of what the NRC said or did not say, those naval vessels, were this 1955 and not 2011, would have had the capability to detect, measure and identify the radioactive material on and around the vessels. Was the response of the miltiary leadership compromised by any external factors?

The above image is a page taken from NRC status updates located at http://enformable.com/2011/12/march-13th-2011-%E2%80%93-2200-edt-%E2%80%93-usnrc-emergency-operations-center-status-update/.

On 13 March 2011 the USS Ronal Reagan was 130 miles off the Japanese coast, and was detecting, identifying and measuring the nuclear fallout it encountered.

Overall decontamination of the vessel did not occur until the end of March 2011.

On 23 March 2011, Stars and Stripes, an organ of the US military, reported as follows:

http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/earthquake-disaster-in-japan/reagan-air-crews-pause-relief-operations-to-decontaminate-1.138602
Quote: “Reagan air crews pause relief operations to decontaminate. By T.D. Flack
Stars and Stripes 31 March 2011.

ABOARD THE USS RONALD REAGAN — Navy officials halted air operations from USS Reagan on Wednesday so they could clean the ship of contamination from radioactive plume it hit while conducting humanitarian relief operations off the coast of Japan on March 13.

While the radiation did not pose any significant health risk, “it needs to go away,” Cmdr. Ron Rutan, chief engineer for the Reagan, said during an interview Tuesday night.

Rutan said the plan calls for a “very tedious and very difficult” mast-to-deck wash down mainly using seawater and high-pressure sprayers.

“We want to be able to do this quickly and well,” he said. One factor is ensuring that dirty, run-off water does not spill over areas that were already cleaned, meaning a methodical, top-to-bottom, front-to-back approach, Rutan explained. As flight deck areas are cleaned, aircraft would be scrubbed down and moved onto the clean areas until they clean the entire upper surface of the carrier.

He said he’s not aware of this ever being attempted before and said it will offer “great opportunities … lots of lessons learned.”

He said the clean-up wasn’t held until Wednesday because officials needed to focus on constant flight operations to assist Japanese areas hardest-hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunamis on March 11.

More than 300 personnel were expected to take part in the effort.” end quote.

The US Naval vessels detected the plume on 13 March 2011 and operations required even closer approaches to the Japanese coast. The vessels remained in the area until April 2011.

There Navy has defined the degree of risk to the crew. As has always happened where gross assessments are made, hazard manifest in health outcomes suffered by individuals will be disputed by authorities.

It has always be been the case. And that is what led to Nuclear Veterans associations, and the long term cohesive political movements formed around and by US Downerwinder populations.

The personnel involved in the US military missions in Japan following the March 2011 disasters deserve to have their own Association. Only they can form it.
…………………………………………………………………………………
The following post is an attempt to reconstruct the events which surround the fire at Reactor Number 4.

One Response to “The US Military Radiological Expertise in the Context of Fukushima”

  1. CaptD Says:

    All the points you raised are spot on, in that when it comes to radiation, talk is cheap but decontamination is N☢T…

Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: