Senator Terlaje seeks justice for Guam residents exposed to radiation from nuclear testing in the Pacific

by Office of the Vice Speaker, Therese M. Terlaje, Committee on Culture and Justice
Stripes Guam

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (March 10, 2017 – Hagåtña) – Senator Therese M. Terlaje (D-Yona) introduced Resolution No. 39-34 (COR) which seeks compensation for cancer and other illnesses caused by exposure to ionizing radiation through the inclusion of Guam residents in U.S. Congress bill S. 197, the “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments of 2017.”

“The RECA program, which is already established and funded, can be a resource that provides justice and compensation for the people of Guam who are suffering from cancer and other illnesses.  It is important that Guam be included as one of the covered areas under this proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress.  We introduced our Resolution No. 39-34 to express our support of S. 197 and the inclusion of Guam. I am really hoping that anyone who was on Guam between 1946 and 1962 or has family from that time will come down to the public hearing so we can show Congress that there are many who are affected and very interested in this issue,” stated Terlaje. 

In 1990, RECA established lump sum compensation for individuals who contracted specific diseases at atmospheric nuclear weapons test sites and individuals who lived downwind from the test sites. If the RECA Amendments bill is passed by U.S. Congress, Guam residents would be eligible to receive compensation due to its close proximity downwind from the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1952.

RECA does not require individuals who file a claim to prove that the cancer or illness was the result of the radiation exposure. To qualify for compensation, an individual only needs to prove that they lived on Guam sometime between June 30, 1946 and August 19, 1958, or from April 25, 1962 to November 5, 1962 and have a diagnosis of leukemia (other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia), multiple myeloma, lymphomas (other than Hodgkin’s disease), or primary cancer of the thyroid, male or female breast, esophagus, stomach, pharynx, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary bladder, brain, colon­, ovary, or liver (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), or lung. The compensation amount would be $150,000 per eligible individual or survivor of an eligible individual. 

A Public Hearing regarding Resolution No. 39-34 (COR) is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on March 14 in I Liheslaturan Guåhan’s Public Hearing Room (Guam Congress Building, Hagåtña).

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