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  • Pacific Island Times Staff

Guam RECA 'downwinder' bill backed by legislature

A long awaited legislative effort is underway in Washington, D.C. to include Guam as an area affected by radioactive fallout from American nuclear testing in the Pacific between 1946 and 1962. And it's being backstopped by all members of the Guam legislature.

Therese Terlaje

Sen.Therese M. Terlaje, with the full backing and sponsorship of all senators of the 35th Guam Legislature, introduced Legislative Resolution 94-35 in support of U.S. Senate Bill 947, “The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019,”

The federal legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Mike Crapo (R- Idaho) and would expand eligibility requirements and increase compensation for persons suffering health problems related to cancer caused by radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests. Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Guam would be added to existing areas where victims can apply for compensation under the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act program. Qualified claimants are entitled to free medical care, health screening, and $150,000 compensation for certain illnesses.

In 2004, The National Academies of Science confirmed Guam’s exposure to radiation as “downwinders” and recommended that Guam be included under RECA. Fifteen years later, Guam still fights an uphill battle for inclusion. S. 947 is the eighth version of the RECA Amendment bill introduced in the last 12 years.

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“Guam has been united in this effort for many, many years through the leadership of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors (PARS), Mr. Robert N. Celestial, the late Dr. Chris Perez, the late Sen. Angel Santos, former Speakers Ben Pangelinan, Mark Forbes, Judith Won Pat, BJ Cruz, and many others. Justice is long overdue and given the high cancer rates and other radiation related illnesses in Guam, the additional healthcare resources under this bill are urgent,” said Sen.Terlaje.

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