I came across the Huffington post article Fukushima And The Navy: Sailors Sue Japan Nuclear Plant Owner, Saying Disaster Made Them Sick. It's talking about a lawsuit against the operators of Fukushima Daiichi by the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan.

Amongst the injuries alleged to have resulted from the radiation is

Plym has a new diagnosis of asthma and her menstrual cycle is severely out of whack.

I'm somewhat skeptical, because I assume that the ill-effects of nuclear radiation would be comparatively simple to research compared to the ill-effects of chemicals or other pollutants, and I hadn't heard about radiation potentially causing asthma or menstrual irregularities. (However, I haven't read much about this topic, so this could be my own ignorance)

I'm also skeptical because I think people may be biased towards blaming radioactivity for health problems when other forms of environmental contamination could be caused by an earthquake and tsunami of this scale.

Is it possible for radiation, at the levels experienced by USS Ronald Reagan crew, to cause the injuries described?

  • 2
    The question as posed may be hard to falsify.
    – gerrit
    Mar 13, 2013 at 13:05
  • @gerrit do you think the question is salvageable?
    – Golden Cuy
    Mar 13, 2013 at 19:37
  • 1
    I'm not a medical scientist, so I find it hard to judge. But the human body is a very complicated body and in many cases, it's very hard know what causes particular diseases. Perhaps better phrased would be is there any mechanism proposed in peer-reviewed scientific literature that could explain..., but even that one is non-trivial to falsify (nobody has read everything). So, I think the question may be salvageable, but I'm not sure how.
    – gerrit
    Mar 13, 2013 at 22:28
  • 3
    I don't know if this qualifies as an answer, but the Mayo Clinic's description of radiation poisoning doesn't include those symptoms (mayoclinic.com/health/radiation-sickness/DS00432/…)
    – Publius
    Mar 14, 2013 at 6:36
  • 1
    Endometriosis seems to be linked to radiation exposure in monkeys: rrjournal.org/doi/abs/10.2307/3577812 Dec 16, 2013 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


This is an ongoing major class-action case, officially Lindsay Cooper, et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, et al. in the 9th US Federal Circuit.

The OP does not reasonably describe the health problems of the sailors in the lawsuit, which are allegedly caused by the radiation. Instead, according to their website:

The lawsuit includes claims for illnesses such as Leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illnesses, stomach ailments and a host of other complaints unusual in such young adults.

Yesterday (4/5/2016), according to 9th Circ. Agrees To Speed Up Sailors' $1B Fukushima Suit, a judge granted a motion by the sailors to speed up the case.

The sailors had argued:

The balance of appellee service members are experiencing various stages of cancer and other ailments associated with radiation exposure .... With each passing month, appellees’ conditions are worsening and many will most probably die before seeing a resolution to their lawsuit. For others, a prompt resolution will bring them the funds required to obtain specialized and advanced medical treatments that could, if employed early enough, save their lives.

On the other hand TEPCO pointed to US Department of Defense statements that radiation doses were too low to cause the problems.

Specifically, there is the Final Report to the Congressional Defense Committees in Response to the Joint Explanatory Statement Accompanying the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014, page 90, “Radiation Exposure” which concludes:

There is no objective evidence that the RONALD REAGAN sailors experienced radiation exposures during OT that would result in an increase in the expected number of radiogenic diseases over time. The estimated radiation doses for all individuals in the OT registry (OTR), including RONALD REAGAN sailors, were very small and well below levels associated with the occurrence of adverse medical conditions.

The US Department of Defense has created Operation Tomodachi Registry (OTR):

The OTR includes nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated individuals who were on or near the mainland of Japan during the period from March 12, 2011 to May 11, 2011, along with their corresponding whole-body and thyroid radiation doses. Over 58,000 individuals were associated with one of 13 shore-based locations, which included DOD military installations and major cities where the majority of the DOD-affiliated population worked or lived. Nearly 17,000 individuals were associated with U.S. Navy fleet-based locations, which included the 25 U.S. Navy ships (and aircrew) in the area during this period.

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