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Court: Sailors Can Sue in US Over Japanese Nuclear Disaster

Sailors scrub the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan following a countermeasure wash down to decontaminate the flight deck while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan, March 23, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo/Nicholas A. Groesch)
Sailors scrub the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan following a countermeasure wash down to decontaminate the flight deck while the ship is operating off the coast of Japan, March 23, 2011. (U.S. Navy photo/Nicholas A. Groesch)

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court says members of the U.S. Navy can pursue their lawsuit in a U.S. court alleging radiation exposure from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the sailors for now don't have to make their legal claims in Japan.

Their lawsuit accuses Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government of conspiring to keep secret the extent of the radiation leak following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people.

The plaintiffs arrived off the coast of Fukushima aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and other vessels to provide humanitarian aid a day after the quake.

They filed their lawsuit in 2012 in federal court in San Diego.

An email to an attorney for Tokyo Electric was not immediately returned.

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