Updated: Sep 24
By Gina Tabonares-Reilly
For nearly 20 years, Guam has been lobbying the U.S. Congress for inclusion in Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program that compensates those affected by the nuclear fallout in the Pacific.
Most members of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors have since died without seeing any recognition or compensation.
It has been an endless battle and PARS is not giving up. This time Guam sees a new glimmer of hope.
Two bills, S. 2798 and H.R. 5338, were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Sept. 22, proposing to extend the coverage of RECA to Guam and to increase awards for “downwinders” from $50,000 to $150,000.
As companion bills both pieces of legislation are able to move through both chambers of the Congress simultaneously, enhancing and expediting its chance of passage, according to Congressman Michael San Nicolas, Guam's delegate to Congress.
Of note, the bills expand RECA to include Guam, once enacted would provide a one-time benefit to "downwinders" of $150,000 as persons who were present in one of the specified areas near nuclear weapons test sites during a period of atmospheric testing and developed one of the types of cancers specified in the statute.