Navy sailor Lindsay Cooper knew something was wrong when billows of metallic-tasting snow began drifting over USS Ronald Reagan.
“I was standing on the flight deck, and we felt this warm gust of air, and, suddenly, it was snowing,” Cooper recalled of the day in March 2011 when she and scores of crewmates watched a sudden storm blow toward them from the tsunami-torn coast of Fukushima, Japan.
The tall 24-year-old with a winning smile didn’t know it then, but the snow was caused by the freezing Pacific air mixing with a plume of radioactive steam from the city’s shattered nuclear reactor.
Now, nearly three years after their deployment on a humanitarian mission to Japan’s ravaged coast, Cooper and scores of her fellow crew members on the aircraft carrier and a half-dozen other support ships are battling cancers, thyroid disease, uterine bleeding and other ailments.
“We joked about it: ‘Hey, it’s radioactive snow!’ ” Cooper recalled. “I took pictures and video.”
But now “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,” said Cooper, fighting tears. “My menstrual cycle lasts for six months at a time, and I cannot get pregnant. It’s ruined me.”
Read the rest of the story: Navy sailors have radiation sickness after Japan rescue.