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American Sailors scrub the USS Ronald Reagan's flight deck as a radiation countermeasure after Operation Tomodachi, a relief effort for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.Nicholas A. Groesch/U.S. Navy/Getty Images.
Crew members on the USS Ronald Reagan during Operation Tomodachi, a 2011 Fukushima relief mission, encountered radiation levels that far exceeded the Japanese government's estimates, according to a report in The Asia-Pacific Journal.
The revelations contained in the report could have a bearing on the lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company by more than 70 U.S. service members who say they suffer from long-term health effects from their participation in the U.S. Navy's response to the nuclear disaster.
Kyle Cleveland, a Temple University professor based in Japan, obtained documents showing military officials aboard the carrier detected radiation levels that were 30 times greater than normal and significantly higher than what the Japanese government told them to expect.
Navy officials have maintained that the radiation levels service members were exposed to during Operation Tomodachi were not enough to cause health effects.
Below are excerpts from a telephone conversation about the crisis — among federal government and embassy officials, nuclear authorities and military staff in the Pacific Command — a transcript of which Cleveland obtained through the Freedom of Information Act: