The New York Times is reporting that the Pentagon will announce that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and crew passed through a cloud of radiation that came from the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.
Crew members that were on the deck of the aircraft carrier at the time they passed through the radioactive cloud were estimated to have received an entire month’s worth of radiation exposure in the span of one hour. The exposure levels of other crew members not on deck is not known, but it is suspected that they were exposed to elevated levels of radiation as well. While crew members were exposed to elevated radiation levels, they have not experienced any negative effects, according to reports.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is the command ship of USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (Carrier Strike Group 7), which has a complement of other ships travelling with it: the cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), the destroyer USS Preble (DDG-88), and combat support ship USNS Bridge (T-AOE-10). It is not clear as to whether these ships also passed through the same radiation cloud, or if they crew members of these ships experienced radiation exposure as well.
Also, Pentagon officials stated that US helicopters flying rescue missions 60 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant got covered with radioactive particles on the outside of the craft, which had to removed by washing it off.
Prevailing winds in the area are blowing eastward across the Pacific Ocean, and it is possible that radiation could reach Wake Island or Midway Island by week’s end, the halfway point between Japan and Hawaii. While it is unclear if this radiation will reach the United States, it is still a possibility, especially if the Fukushima nuclear reactor experiences a full nuclear meltdown.
More information is available at the New York Times article.