29 Apr 2010

US legislation a "first step" in compensation process for Guam nuclear radiation victims

9:08 am on 29 April 2010

The Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors, or PARS, has welcomed a new bill in the US senate which would allow Guam residents exposed to nuclear tests decades ago to claim as much as US$150,000 each in damages.

The bill looks to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include Guam on the list of affected areas where victims can make claims alongside the likes of Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

One of the bill's co-sponsors, Guam's congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, says many people in so-called "downwinder" areas like Guam have been affected by nuclear testing.

The president of PARS, Robert Celestial, has played a key role in lobbying for this bill which also provides for health benefits for victims.

He says it's merely a first step in the compensation process.

"We've never been compensated. The Marshall islands were compensated partially and they, evidently, ran out of money through their trust fund and now they're... ignored. If we (Guam) weren't a US territory out here, I don't think they (US lawmakers) would even entertain it."