OTR Interviews

Hero Navy responders to 2011 nuke plant disaster sickened

Three years after earthquake and tsunami struck Japan and caused a nuclear power meltdown, at least 100 Navy first responders suffer from unexplained illnesses


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: One hundred U.S. Navy sailors who stared down a nuclear meltdown in Japan are now facing life threatening illnesses. They blame radiation poisoning. Navy Lt. Steve Simmons joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you here.

SIMMONS: Thank you for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are active duty?


VAN SUSTEREN: What happened? I mean, let me straighten that. Now, prior to responding to the tsunami in Japan, were you in good health?

SIMMONS: I would like to think I was in good health.

VAN SUSTEREN: You walked?

SIMMONS: I did. I was actually an avid hiker. I was -- tried to work out quite often. I was actually doing P90X workout since I need to workout. And in fact the summer prior to the operation in Japan, I had actually been in Hawaii and on one day I had gone out and done a couple mile trail run with a friend of mine and then a couple days later, I was hiking Diamond Head and immediately, the next day after hiking Diamond Head, I went and hiked Stairway To Heaven.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then at some point you went to Hawaii when the tsunami hit and when the U.S. Navy responded to help the Japanese?

SIMMONS: Correct. We were -- I was already on a scheduled deployment. The 2011 deployment was already scheduled. So, we were out on that deployment. And the earthquake and tsunami hit, struck the coast of Japan.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're in a wheelchair now. What is your problem? What is your health problem?

SIMMONS: It's a laundry list. It -- it started November of 2011, after the deployment. I ended up -- the first thing I noticed was I was actually driving down route 50 heading into Arlington to work and I blacked out and drove my truck up on a curb. And after that, I noticed something just wasn't right with the health. I thought I was just coming down with maybe flu or something, that I wasn't so sure. And I started running constant fevers. By January, of '12, I was hospitalized at Walter Reed, hospitalized three different times between January and March, still running constant fevers. During the second hospitalization, it's when we noticed the problem with the legs, muscle weakness beginning.

VAN SUSTEREN: And there are 100 of you or the hundred of you all responded to -- they're sick and various illnesses all responded to the Japanese -- with the radiation leak in Japan?

SIMMONS: To my understanding, everybody was a part of either on board the Reagan or one of the other ships that responded or some of them were actually still stationed in Japan at the time.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know that oftentimes people don't want to admit things cause things like -- you know, like I know the whole orange thing. Does the Navy say that the 100 of you who responded, who have these illnesses -- are they saying or admitting that it's the radiation leak?

SIMMONS: Right now, there is no correlation that anybody is making. Nobody has.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except a weird coincidence. I mean, rather.

SIMMONS: As of right now that's all it is a weird coincidence is bad. There is over 100 individuals who are dealing with ailments -- a laundry list of ailments from leukemias, cancers, different tumors, you name it. And it's been going on.

VAN SUSTEREN: How many on your ship, do you know?

SIMMONS: I don't know the number.

VAN SUSTEREN: You weren't the only one from your ship?

SIMMONS: Absolutely not.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, lieutenant, you know, I just don't even know what to say to you because -- you know, it's like -- we are always so appreciative when our Navy responds to any crisis and then, you know, I'm sure the Japanese were, too. But this is obvious -- this radiation leak is obviously causing -- at least, I think it is causing great harm. You know, I wish I could change things for you.

SIMMONS: It's difficult. It's a challenge. And really the challenge for me and for many folks is unknown. Some of them -- some individuals are dealing without healthcare or anything like that. And others are, you know, in my situation, I'm dealing with the unknown of what exactly am I dealing with, as I don't have a true diagnosis aside from muscle weakness.

VAN SUSTEREN: I hope that -- I hope that -- you know, that somehow (inaudible). Thank you, sir.

SIMMONS: Thank you.