Guam's radiation survivors still hoping for inclusion in newly extended RECA
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
President Joe Biden today signed a two-year extension of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act or RECA, which was otherwise scheduled to sunset in July.
"This two-year extension now gives us time to ensure that the U.S. Congress addresses two RECA amendment bills in the House and Senate H.R. 5338 and S. 2798 and to get them passed and signed into law to provide Guam residents the benefits in the RECA program," the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors said in a statement.
S. 2798 and H.R. 5338 were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Sept. 22, 2021 proposing to extend the coverage of RECA to Guam and to increase awards for “downwinders” from $50,000 to $150,000.
"We are working with the Frontline Community Group which consists of other Downwinder groups from New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Navajo Nation, Pueblo Acoma and Post 71 Uranium Miners," PARS said.
For nearly 20 years, Guam has been lobbying the U.S. Congress for inclusion in the RECA program that compensates those affected by the nuclear fallout in the Pacific.
Most PARS members have since died without seeing any recognition or compensation.
The bills would provide a one-time compensation to those 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.
“For over 20 years PARS has put forth education campaigns, solicited community input to tell the stories of Guam radiation survivors, partnered with community groups in other impacted jurisdictions and lobbied congressional leaders to include Guam in RECA," Guam Speaker Therese Terlaje said, crediting
Robert Celestial, PARS president, for his advocacy.
"This extension gives us more time to continue pushing for the passage of S. 2798 and H.R. 5338. I continue to be fully committed and engaged in ensuring the bills in both the House and the Senate are passed," she added.