Marshall Islands to request $3 billion more from U.S. for health effects of nuclear testing

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is petitioning for $3 billion in additional compensation from the U.S. government, after receiving $270 million in an agreement which expired in 2001.

The U.S. government performed a series of 67 tests of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958. Fallout from the testing is claimed to have affected some of the island's near 60,000 inhabitants. "We're finding people on remote islands with high percentages of cancers," said RMI Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios.

A report last year from the U.S. National Cancer Institute estimated that about 530 total cancers could appear, almost double the amount currently known.

The U.S. government disagrees over which islands were affected by the testing. Also, U.S. agencies have concluded that there is no further legal requirement for compensation above what has already been provided, unless the situation changes substantially.

The government of the Marshall Islands plans to "work tirelessly together to make certain that the nuclear issue is settled in a fair and just manner", said RMI President Kessai Note.

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate plan to hold hearings on the claim as soon as May 25.