Guam Left Out in New RECA Bill
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
monday 6 august 2007
IDAHO senators have reintroduced a bill that would make residents of Idaho and Montana eligible for a federal government program that compensates people suffering from diseases acquired from radiation exposure resulting from nuclear testing in the Nevada test site, as Guam still awaits its inclusion in the program.
Robert Celestial, president of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors, yesterday expressed disappointment in Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s inaction on a draft bill that his group submitted to her office on Jan. 19.
The bill, drafted by PARS, seeks to include Guam in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act program, based on the 2005 report released by the National Research Council, which concluded that Guam residents were eligible for the program.
Celestial said despite repeated promises made by Bordallo’s office to bring Guam’s case to Congress, PARS has yet to see action on the draft bill.
Following the release of the NRC report in 2005, Bordallo filed a bill seeking the inclusion of Guam in the RECA program, but the legislation languished in the House of Representatives and was abandoned altogether when the 109th Congress adjourned.
“It’s been over seven months since we submitted our draft proposal to the congresswoman, yet we’re still waiting for her to reintroduce the bill. We love our congresswoman but does she love us back?” Celestial asked. NRC determined that certain elements of fallout from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, such as the radioactive isotope Iodine-131, settled in Guam. Those affected in this way are often referred to as “downwinders,” to denote their situation downwind from the fallout.
According to researchers, radioactive contamination can manifest itself as various forms of cancer, leukemia and other illnesses, particularly thyroid cancer. “If you look at the obituary pages in the paper, you’ll see a lot of our residents having gone away without ever getting compensated for the diseases they have suffered as a result of nuclear testing in the Pacific during the 1950s,” he added.
Last week, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and Larry Craig were joined by Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester on S. 1917 that would amend RECA to include all of Idaho and Montana. Nuclear testing in Nevada during the 1950s and 1960s released radiation into the atmosphere that settled in states far away from the original test site.