Letter Sent to:
President Barack Obama, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd Dist), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
I am a mother, grandmother and human being living in Washington State on the Puget Sound, and I have some questions.
My son served on the USS Reagan in 2011. In March of that year the ship was on regular deployment en route to S. Korea and was diverted to assist with humanitarian efforts off the coast of Japan. They brought the tsunami survivors water, food and clothing, the sailors giving most of their own personal supplies of food and clothing to the victims who had nothing. At one point the carrier was less than two miles away from Fukushima Daiichi as one of the nuclear reactors exploded and melted, releasing radioactivity into the air and water. My son’s work station below was contaminated along with the entire carrier deck when the passageways became a transit area for the irradiated helicopter pilots returning from rescue and relief operations. He and his fellow sailors spent their time in this work station or on deck during the months they were offshore Japan and throughout the 7 month deployment.
The sailors’ families were reassured by the ship’s Captain that their loved ones were in no danger and that in fact “the maximum radiation dose they received was equal to the amount of natural background radiation one would receive in one month from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun.” We were told that their health was not compromised. I would like to know how one can believe that a ship can travel through a radioactive plume, pump thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the desalinization tanks to be used for drinking, showers and the making of food, and imagine that there is no health risk to anyone on board bathing in and drinking that contaminated water.
We were told that there was little residual radioactive contamination on the carrier deck. Why then were the sailors sent to decontaminate the deck with brooms and brushes? “The mass cleanup of the ship's surface Wednesday was considered largely successful, although commanding officer Capt. Thom Burke, in an announcement over the vessel's public address system the next day, said that some "hot spots" remained”.
I would like to know, if there were “hot spots,” why my son was sent to scrub the radiation from the deck without proper protective clothing or even a mask. I would like to know how much radiation he was exposed to, working 16 hours a day on the carrier deck and in his contaminated work station below. I would like to know how many radioisotopes he ingested while drinking the desalinated contaminated ocean water, how many entered his pores as he bathed in it.
I would like to know if his unremitting headaches for the last 3 years are connected to the radiation exposure. And why no one to date is monitoring the health of these sailors.
My family lives at this time on the Puget Sound. I would like to know what foods here are safe for us to eat. I would like to know when the EPA/FDA is going to get involved in testing the food supply. Are the fish safe to eat? Are they bio-accumulating radiation? Is my son, who has already been exposed, bio-accumulating more poison by the food he eats?
If it is true as government officials state that the amount of radiation we are exposed to on the West Coast is no greater than if one ate a banana, then why are so many unusual events reported: melting starfish, stranded sea lions, the western Pacific sardine population decimated, hot spots along the coast of California, diseased Alaska seals.
Officials, when queried about these events are confused, befuddled, confounded, yet all are sure it is not Fukushima radiation spread that is causing these problems. Indeed, the meltdown of the nuclear reactors is being treated as something that happened in the past rather than an ongoing event.
I would like to know if there is any authority or governmental entity anywhere now monitoring the results of the unceasing and uncontrolled release of radioactive debris from the leaking reactors into our air and water. What are the radiation levels in the Pacific Ocean and along the West Coast? Where is the data? How can we know that there is not a Fukushima related problem if no one is testing or those who are doing the testing are not telling us the results? All we are being told is to not be concerned.
If my son and at least 100 of his fellow sailors as first responders in 2011 are now sick, are they not the canaries in the coalmine? A registry has been established by the DOD: however, “Since the estimated radiation doses and health risks associated with this event are so low, no one is being placed in a medical surveillance program to monitor their long-term health outcomes.”
Why are we not paying more attention to the health of the sailors, the seals and the starfish?
I do not know if my son is suffering effects from the radiation he was exposed to three years ago. I do not know if my grandchildren are being poisoned by the air they breathe and the food they eat. But I would really like to know.