Radiation compensation plan considered - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Radiation compensation plan considered

Posted: Updated:
Over a decade ago a blue ribbon panel was formed at the request of the Guam Legislature. Their mission was to study in-depth radioactive contamination in Guam between 1946 to 1958. This time period is crucial because this was around the same time the United States military was conducting nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

In November 2012 the blue ribbon panel completed an action report that determined the military "put the population of Guam in harm's way knowingly and with total disregard for there well being".  The report also stated "what was perpetrated against this region was the largest ecological disaster in human history." But despite that report, Guam continues to fight for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. That effort continued at the Guam Legislature this afternoon.  The report and other studies that have been conducted on the matter have determined that there is a correlation between the nuclear testing and high incidences of cancer in Guam, which is the second leading cause of death locally.

Today the Legislature heard testimony on Resolution 39, the latest attempt for Guam to be treated fairly and justly compensated.

67 nuclear devices were detonated by the Atomic Energy Commission in or around the Marshalls between 1946 and 1962. The radiation emanating from these explosions severely affected those who lived in the Marshall Islands, resulting in everything from cancers to birth deformities. However, the radioactive fallout didn't stop there: it extended downwind over 1,000 miles away to Guam. 

Robert Celestial is the president of the Pacific Atomic Radiation Survivors, and testified before the Legislature, citing a study that shows how Guam was affected. "The study was made back in 2000/2001," he shared. "A report was made by the National Academy of Science - they just gave a broad eligibility conclusion that the residents of Guam during that time were exposed to high levels of radiation from the fallout." And according to Celestial, this information was kept classified until 1998. "The people of Guam were affected by the nuclear fallout and that the residents during that time period are eligible to receive compensation in accordance with the law right now that has been passed," he added.

He is referring to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which provides up to $150,000 to victims of radiation. Although Guam residents should be eligible to receive compensation, they are not. Yet Resolution 994, and Bill 331 - recently introduced in the US Congress and Senate, respectively -  would amend federal law, to include island residents.

Celestial said, "Eligibility is anyone who was in Guam from 1946 to 1962; only have to prove that they were here, and they have one of 21 types of cancers, and the amendment would have $50,000 to $150,000 and free medical care."

Like Celestial, Berthena Nelson is hoping Washington will listen, saying, "This has been a couple of decades, and it's overdue, and in Chamorro the word for justice is hustia, and they need to be compensated."

John Farnum is also hoping for justice. He is a 30-year Department of Defense veteran who said he was compelled to attend the hearing because of his family. "What brings me here very heartily is that my complete family members have also gone through what radiation has done for us. I lost my mom and dad to cancer," he said. Nelson added, "I want the public to come out in numbers, to show their support. Be vocal. Demand justice. And it's for all of Guam!"

The legislative resolution urges Congress to pass House Resolution 994, which was co-sponsored by Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, as well as Senate Bill 331, both of which include provisions that would provide compensation for Guam residents affected by the downwind effects of nuclear tests in the Pacific. 

But that wasn't the only issue discussed. Likewise considered was Resolution 52, which urges Congress to increase the annual spending for Compact impact assistance to affected jurisdictions from $30 million to $185 million annually. While Speaker Judi Won Pat estimates that the Government of Guam spends $144 million on providing services to migrants from the Freely Associated States, the federal government has reduced the amount of Compact impact compensation from $16 million to $14 million.

Both resolutions are inline with efforts underway in the nation's capitol by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to increase Compact impact assistance and amending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. On Compact impact, the congresswoman says the Legislature's solution to support increasing funding will add to the legislative history of this effort and demonstrates a One Guam approach to the issue.

You can read both resolutions at GuamLegislature.com.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Outback Steakhouse staffers feed homeless in Dededo

    Outback Steakhouse staffers feed homeless in Dededo

    On Monday our friends over at Outback Steakhouse volunteered their time and food to feed the homeless at the Dededo Mayor's Office. They grilled on site and fed over 70 individuals who came out to enjoy some good old fashioned barbecue, Outback style! Outback Steakhouse is closed temporarily for a major remodel and renovations. It is expected to re-open in early December. The renovation is part of their 20th Anniversary activities and while renovations are under way, the team have b...More >>
    On Monday our friends over at Outback Steakhouse volunteered their time and food to feed the homeless at the Dededo Mayor's Office. They grilled on site and fed over 70 individuals who came out to enjoy some good old fashioned barbecue, Outback style! Outback Steakhouse is closed temporarily for a major remodel and renovations. It is expected to re-open in early December. The renovation is part of their 20th Anniversary activities and while renovations are under way, the team have b...More >>
  • Mark Charfauros informed of slight delay in his trial

    Mark Charfauros informed of slight delay in his trial

    Will he make his comeback to the Guam Police Department? He'll need to have his case settled in the courts before the Civil Service Commission will entertain his termination appeal. Former police colonel Mark Charfauros appeared in court on Tuesday. There he was advised there would be a slight delay to his February trial. When asked if parties would reach a resolution instead of going to trial, defense attorney Randy Cunliffe stated "I doubt it." Trial is now scheduled ...More >>
    Will he make his comeback to the Guam Police Department? He'll need to have his case settled in the courts before the Civil Service Commission will entertain his termination appeal. Former police colonel Mark Charfauros appeared in court on Tuesday. There he was advised there would be a slight delay to his February trial. When asked if parties would reach a resolution instead of going to trial, defense attorney Randy Cunliffe stated "I doubt it." Trial is now scheduled ...More >>
  • Chief judge dismisses case against GEB members

    Chief judge dismisses case against GEB members

    It's official. In an order issued this week, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dismissed with prejudice the case against two Guam Education Board members in their individual capacities. They are Rosie Tainatongo and Jose Cruz, both of whom resolved their issues with Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez. If you recall, Fernandez filed a $7 million lawsuit in the federal court after the board terminated his contract. No action was taken for the remaining GEB membe...More >>
    It's official. In an order issued this week, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood dismissed with prejudice the case against two Guam Education Board members in their individual capacities. They are Rosie Tainatongo and Jose Cruz, both of whom resolved their issues with Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez. If you recall, Fernandez filed a $7 million lawsuit in the federal court after the board terminated his contract. No action was taken for the remaining GEB membe...More >>
Powered by Frankly