‘Address downwind inequities’


The people of the Marianas should be considered “downwinders,” possibly exposed to radiation from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and eligible for compensation, Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) said Thursday in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein called the hearing to examine the eligibility requirements for the Radiation Exposure Compensation program to ensure that all those living downwind of the tests and exposed to radiation receive coverage.

“Perhaps, because the Marianas was not represented in Congress in 2005, we were not included in a congressionally-mandated study of how fallout from nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands may have harmed people on downwind islands,” Sablan says. “I think that inequity needs to be addressed.

“Guam was included in the study. And the National Research Council Committee concluded that ‘Guam did receive measurable fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific.’

“The study also advised that ‘residents of Guam during that period should be eligible for compensation under [the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act],’” Sablan added.

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Marianas delegate made the case for considering people in the Marianas as equally affected as Guam. The southernmost island of Rota is only a short distance from Guam. And Saipan in the Marianas is actually closer to Bikini Atoll than Guam. Bikini is one of the Marshall Islands, where the United States conducted aboveground nuclear testing from 1946 through 1962.

The congressionally-mandated 2005 report of the National Research Council of the National Academies “Assessment of the Scientific Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program” is available at (PR)

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