Compensation overdue for radiation victims
by Jean Hudson, KUAM News
Sunday, October 22, 2006
One non-profit organization continues to push for victims of radiation exposure. President of the Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors Robert Celestial says according to the National Research Council Guam has missed out on many years of compensation. "Because as of 2000 through 2002, counties in the United States have been receiving millions of dollars through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, and we missed it back then and last year again,' he explained.
Celestial continued, "And so what that does, we now have to justify ask for funding for a new hospital, radiation therapy, and we need a radiation oncologist and a team to operate the machine because they appropriated $2 million for through the Legislature for the machine. It's like buying an airplane without the pilots and mechanics to run it."
He says according to the National Research Council, survivors who lived on Guam between 1946 and 1962 may qualify for compensation. Also, during the PARS annual membership meeting this afternoon, guest speaker Dr. Luis Syzfres with the Cancer Research Center talked about research that reveals that only 5.3% of Guam's population is over age 65. "This is something that is even published in the U.S. Census. I began to ask what is going on in Guam? I receive answers like 'Oh, they're on vacation, the old people', 'They are visiting their children.' No! So what is it? What is unique to Guam that people can't get really old?
"And when we say old, we know that these are diseases that are not like bullets. They are chronic diseases that start early in life," he said.