PARS asks Bordallo to re-file RECA bill
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
May 30, 2007
TAKING a cue from Idaho lawmakers' renewed bid for federal support for Idaho residents sickened by radioactive fallout, the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors yesterday reiterated its call for Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo to reintroduce a bill that would include Guam in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act program.
"We sent our draft bill to the congresswoman in January but, until now, she hasn't introduced the bill. We were told that the bill is still under legal review," PARS president Robert Celestial said.
Celestial urged Bordallo to take the opportunity to put forward Guam's own case while the request to amend RECA has shown movement in Congress.
Congressmen Mike Simpson, R-ID, and Jim Matheson, D-UT, last week wrote to the House Judiciary Committee requesting an oversight hearing on RECA, its amendments of July 2000, and the possibility of expanding the legislation to cover individuals exposed to radioactive fallout that are not currently covered.
The nuclear bomb tests were carried out in the Nevada desert in the 1950s and 1960s at the Nevada Test Site. More than $440 million in compensation has been paid to so-called downwinders and their survivors in Nevada, Utah and Arizona under the act, but none to downwinders in Idaho.
"For Guam, we don't want an oversight hearing. The congresswoman must introduce the bill and from there, we will ask for a committee hearing," Celestial said.
The National Research Council's report two years ago concluded that "Guam did receive measurable fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific," and recommended that people living on island during that period be compensated under RECA "in a way similar to that of persons considered to downwinders."
The U.S. conducted a total of 67 nuclear tests on Enewetak and Bikini Atolls in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1962, resulting in fallout across a wide area in the Pacific.
In 2005, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, introduced a bill that would have made Idaho residents eligible for RECA payments, and Bordallo sought the inclusion of Guam in that bill, which stagnated in the Senate and eventually died when the 109th Congress adjourned.