Sailors sue Japan over illnesses they say stem from radiation exposure at Fukishima

Men served aboard USS Ronald Reagan off Japan

SAN DIEGO - Some San Diego sailors are suing Japan because they say officials from the country lied about radiation during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster.

Explosions at the nuclear facility sent plumes of radiation into the air following a tsunami that rocked the country's coast in March 2011.

The eight American sailors say that they became sick when they were exposed to the radiation while delivering aid. The sailors were onboard the USS Ronald Reagan, off the coast of Japan, when the nuclear disaster happened.

Their attorney, Paul Garner, wants Japan to pay for the illnesses the sailors are suffering from. 

"They have physical problems. One of them is bleeding from from his rectum already," said Garner. "The others have problems with thyroid glands."

Garner says another sailor has cancer and recently had a baby with birth defects, traits he says are associated with radiation positioning.

But proving that these health problems came from the radiation won't be so easy.

"I don't think you can actually prove that," said Murray Jennex, a former sailor and a professor with San Diego State University. "

Jennex, who is also a nuclear expert, says determining radiation levels in a person and the direct effects can easily be argued.

"There is no science I know of that there lives are shortened," said Jennex. "But this is something that is way down the road. If it was an immediate exposure risk, they would have known that."

Garner and the sailors say the Japanese government knew exactly how dangerous the situation was and never told the sailor aboard the ship about the risks until it was too late.

"They put out the word that everything is fine, we got everything under control, and they lulled everybody, the world into a false sense of security," said Garner.

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