18 Apr 2007

Disappointment in Marshalls over US nuke compo fund

3:54 pm on 18 April 2007

Marshall Islanders exposed to the nuclear tests feel that the US is trying to wash its hands of the problem after a billion dollar ruling by a tribunal will now have to go to a US court.

The Marshall Islands-based Nuclear Claims Tribunal cannot afford to pay out its biggest award yet, which it has just granted to victims on Rongelap atoll.

The ruling comes 15 years after the claim was filed over the nuclear fallout from the US hydrogen bomb test at Bikini in 1954.

The Tribunal halted payments in 2006 after funds available for victims dropped from 150 million dollars in 1986 to just one million.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says it's left many Marshallese victims who are usually supportive of the US feeling jaded.

"Marshall Islanders say well look we're asking for a few billions to make this right to get clean up funds, to provide medical care and to compensate people for suffering and you say no, we did that, we're done, there's no more money and yet it's pouring more than five billion dollars a month into Iraq and into a country that doesn't support the US in the way we've always been friends with the US."

Giff Johnson.

Rongelap islanders will file suit against the US in the court of claims to get the compensation ruling enforced.