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17 U.S. Navy Members Exposed to Radiation in Japan

"They received very, very low levels of contamination."

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility in the Pacific Ocean. Ronald Reagan is en route toward Japan to render humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as directed. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord/Released)

TOKYO (The Blaze/AP) -- The U.S. Seventh Fleet said Monday it had moved its ships and aircraft away from a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant after discovering low-level radioactive contamination that led to 17 military personnel being treated for exposure.

The fleet said that the radiation was from a plume of smoke and steam released from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, where there have been two hydrogen explosions since Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami. The New York Times says some helicopter crews stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan had received about a month's worth or radiation after passing through a plume.

“They received very, very low levels of contamination,” Commander Jeff A. Davis told the Times in a telephone interview from Japan early Monday.

“It certainly is not cause for alarm,” he said. “It is something we have to watch very carefully and make sure we are able to monitor, and to mitigate against this environmental hazard.”

The USS Ronald Reagan was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) offshore when its instruments detected the radiation.

“As a precautionary measure, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and other U.S. Seventh Fleet ships conducting disaster-response operations in the area have moved out of the downwind direction from the site to assess the situation and determine what appropriate mitigating actions are necessary,” Commander David told the Times.

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