The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors (PARS) will be holding their general membership meeting and fundraiser open to the public on Saturday, Nov. 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tamuning Community Center. PARS President Robert Celestial will present the history of the work that PARS has done, and he hopes to educate the community on the group's efforts.
PARS was created in 2002 to advocate for Guam’s inclusion into the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA ) as “downwinders,” due to exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing conducted on the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1962. The group has lobbied tirelessly for more than a decade with the Guam Legislature, which has introduced numerous resolutions to support the inclusion of Guam into RECA.
Celestial wrote to President Barack Obama on Nov. 5 to ask for an executive order for Guam’s inclusion into the act. The group’s hope is that President Obama would be able to sign an order for Guam’s inclusion because it would not require additional funds, according to Celestial. RECA will receive funding annually until 2022, and a March report by the Department of Justice stated that more than $2 billion in awards have been released so far. If Guam is included, eligible residents could receive medical benefits and $50,000 in monetary compensation.
“It has been over a decade since Guam and its residents have been waiting for Congress to act on numerous bills to include Guam in RECA,” Celestial stated in his letter. “Mr. President, with a swipe of your pen you can end this wait and give the residents of Guam the same redress that other citizens from Nevada, parts of Arizona and Utah have been receiving since (2000).”
'Measurable fallout' on Guam
A National Research Council report concluded in 2005 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 be downwinders.
“After over 14 years of lobbying with local leaders, U.S. Congress and the Office of the President of the U.S., we continue to fight for inclusion into RECA and for compensation to those affected by the nuclear fallout," Celestial wrote. "Many of our members have passed without seeing any recognition or compensation. We will continue our efforts to honor those who have passed and to advocate for our remaining members and hope that in our lifetime, we will see our efforts be successful in Guam’s inclusion into RECA.”