Japan's radiation leaks may affect our private defense contractors. (Part Two)

In our recent articles we have advised you that the U.S. Defense Base Act protects contractors of any nationality working for various agencies of the United States and, specifically, the U.S. Military. We have had major bases from all branches of the military (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force) in Japan and Okinawa for many decades. Due to the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the resulting tsunami the nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture have suffered catastrophic coolant failure.

When nuclear reactors can not be shut down properly and the rods of enriched uranium and/or plutonium over heat, they release enormous amounts of radioactivity. Private defense contractors in the region must be aware of the symptoms of radiation exposure. These symptoms may not show for months. Any questions as to coverage for radiation illness that you may have should be brought immediately to your Defense Base Act lawyer. The speed with which the symptoms may develop is generally proportional to the extent of the exposure. Logically, a high exposure even over a short period of time will create symptoms more quickly that a low exposure to radioactive isotopes over a longer period of time. There are no absolute rules here. However, even with a low level exposure if it lasts long enough (different for every person) it can still create radiation poisoning.

Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) is also known as radiation poisoning. It has also been called radiation sickness or radiation toxicity. Radiation sickness disrupts the bodies functions at the cellular level initially causing vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, loss of weight, skin disruptions including redness, skin burns, and persistent sores. Any or all of these initial symptoms need to be evaluated immediately. Remember, these initial symptoms may not show up until months after exposure so don't ignore any of them. Contact a Defense Base Act lawyer with experience. Severe gastrointestinal symptoms accompanied by skin lesions become worse without proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment generally consists of blood transfusions, antibiotics, and supportive therapies to control the skin lesions and overcome the gastric distress. Iodine is administered as well so that the thyroid gland absorbs the relatively harmless iodine and NOT the radioisotopes. Because low to moderate ARS (Acute Radiation Syndrome) causes a drop in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets this shows up in the patient as extreme fatigue, uncontrollable bleeding, and susceptibility to infections. More severe cases have those symptoms plus dizziness (vertigo), headaches (cephalgia), and even coma. If you, as a private defense contractor experience any of these symptoms, you must immediately report the exposure and secure medical treatment. You will need legal help as well to make sure that you get all of the benefits available to you under the U.S. Defense Base Act. Remember a Defense Base Act attorney with experience can help you or your family member who qualifies get all of the medical care you need, lost wages, and a possible settlement.