By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM
Eight crew members of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, whose home port is San Diego, sued the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Federal Court.
They claim the utility company, "a wholly owned public benefit subsidiary of the government of Japan," misrepresented radiation levels to lull the U.S. Navy "into a false sense of security."
Lead plaintiff Lindsay R. Cooper claims Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) intentionally concealed the dangerous levels of radiation in the environment from U.S. Navy rescue crews working off the coast of Japan after the March 10, 2011 earthquake and tsunami set off the nuclear disaster.
"TEPCO pursued a policy to cause rescuers, including the plaintiffs, to rush into an unsafe area which was too close to the FNPP [Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant] that had been damaged. Relying upon the misrepresentations regarding health and safety made by TEPCO ... the U.S. Navy was lulled into a false sense of security," the complaint states.......
.............. "As a consequence of the earthquake and tsunami, the reactors were damaged and power to the cooling mechanism of the FNPP was interrupted, resulting in a meltdown of the fuel and reactor itself, thereby triggering the release of high levels of radiation."
And, they say: "Defendants had actual and/or constructive knowledge of the properties of radiation that would ensure that, once released into the environment, radiation would spread further and in concentrations that would cause injury to the plaintiffs."............
................ The plaintiffs claim the government deliberately misled them: "the Japanese government kept representing that there was no danger of radiation contamination to the U.S.S. Reagan ... and/or its crew, that 'everything is under control,' 'all is OK, you can trust us,' and there is 'no immediate danger' or threat to human life, all the while lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdowns at FNPP.
"Such reports were widely circulated with the defendant, TEPCO's, organization at the time it was published, despite the fact that the defendant knew that higher levels of radiation existed within the area whereat the plaintiffs and their vessel would be and were operating."..................
.............. They are seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages for fraud, negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, public and private nuisance, and defective design. They also want TEPCO ordered to establish a fund of $100 million to pay for their medical expenses.
They are represented by Paul Garner.