A shocking new report by an American scholar based in Tokyo reveals that Navy officers and the Japanese government communicated about the irradiation of the USS Reagan aircraft carrier, which responded to the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011. Sailors on the USS Reagan were among the first to be exposed to the toxic radiation plume while the ship was parked off the coast of Fukushima for tsunami relief, though both the US Navy and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) claim contamination levels were safe.

The report details conversations that took place between US-based federal government officials, nuclear authorities, US officials in Tokyo, and military staff in the Pacific Command (PACOM). The conversations were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Transcribed conversations show that Navy officers acknowledged that, even 100 miles away from Fukushima, the USS Reagan’s readings were about 30 times greater than a normal air sample.

Serious fallout was also detected on helicopters coming back from relief missions and the crew was exposed to water that entered the ship’s desalinization system. The transcripts contain a discussion of health impacts that could occur within a matter of “10 hours,” noting, “it’s a thyroid dose issue.” Additionally, sailors on the Reagan were exposed to a radioactive snowstorm on the ship that was created when the plume of radioactive steam from the shattered nuclear reactor mixed with freezing air over the Pacific.

Now those servicemen and women say they are fighting cancers, thyroid disease and other ailments due to contamination during their humanitarian mission to the Japanese coast. One female crew member told The New York Post, “My thyroid is so out of whack that I can lose 60 to 70 pounds in one month and then gain it back the next. My menstrual cycle lasts for six months at a time, and I cannot get pregnant.” Another female sailor who was pregnant during the mission had a baby born with multiple genetic mutations. According to EcoWatch:

Scores of sailors from the Reagan and other ships stationed nearby now report a wide range of ailments reminiscent of those documented downwind from atomic bomb tests in the Pacific and Nevada, and at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. A similar metallic taste was described by pilots who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and by central Pennsylvanians downwind of Three Mile Island. Some parts of the atolls downwind from the South Pacific bomb tests remain uninhabitable six decades later.

The USS Reagan was denied permission to dock in Japan or South Korea and spent more than two months at sea before Thailand took it into port. It is currently docked in San Francisco. In January, the US Navy announced that the aircraft carrier will be moved to Japan, replacing the USS George Washington at a Navy base near Tokyo.

A group of sailors have twice filed a lawsuit against TEPCO, alleging that TEPCO officials knew the cloud of steam they released to relieve pressure in the tsunami-stricken power plant was toxic. At least 70 sailors have suffered from some form of radiation sickness, and at least half of those have some form of cancer. “We’re seeing leukemia, testicular cancer and unremitting gynecological bleeding,” Paul Garner, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told The Post. “Then you have thyroid polyps, other thyroid diseases.”

The sailors are unable to sue the Navy; however, they refiled a $1 billion class action suit against TEPCO in federal court on February 6, EcoWatch reports. The lawsuit alleges that TEPCO failed to disclose that the USS Reagan, which was as close as one mile offshore, was “being heavily dosed from three melt-downs and dour explosions at the Fukushima site.”

Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.