April 25, 2013 @ 5:10 pm
Ep. 16 "Environmental Justice and Radiation Exposure in Guam" (hosted by Dr. Lisa Linda Natividad with production assistance of Lydia Taleu and Joy White) first aired 5/7/10
From 1946 to 1962 the US conducted 67 nuclear tests on Enewetak, Rongelap and Bikini atolls in the Marshall Islands resulting in radiation fallout across a large swath of the Pacific, including Guam. Evidence for high levels of radiation exposure on Guam and its coverup by military authorities was provided in a sworn affidavit by US Navy Lt. Bert Schreiber, an atomic, biological and chemical defense officer stationed on Guam in the 1950s. Up to 20 years later, from 1968 to 1974, Guam had higher yearly rainfall measures of strontiun 90 compared to Majuro (Marshall islands). Lt. Schreiner did not make any public disclosure of his detection for radioactive material until he blew the whistle during the Blue Ribbon Panel on Radioactive Contamination on Guam held in Washington, DC on July 30, 2001. In November 2005, he returned to the island to make a public apology for remaining silent for over 50 years while the people of Guam were exposed to radiation, ate contaminated food and drank contaminated water.
In 2009, Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo introduced a bill (HR 1630) to amend the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include Guam in the list of affected ‘downwinder’ areas with respect to atmospheric nuclear testing in Micronesia. In April 2010, Senator Tom Udall introduced an amendment to RECA with the inclusion of Guam for downwinders compensation. To date, the people of Guam have yet to receive compensation. The territory currently qualifies for RECA compensation in the ‘on-site participants” category but not for downwind exposure.
Exposure to high levels of radiation have been linked to poor health outcomes, particularly in cancer related cases and diabetes . The technology to clean the environment of radiation does not currently exist. As a result, people in the Pacific continue to suffer the long-term effects of radiation exposure from US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and French nuclear testing in Polynesia. The Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors, or PARS, is a nonprofit organization established to bring justice to those whose health has been negatively affected by exposure to radiation.
Program guests are Mr. Robert Celestial, PARS president and Dr. Chris Perez, PARS medical advisor. Mr. Celestial is an atomic Army veteran who was deployed to Enewetak in the Marshall Islands to attempt post nuclear testing cleanup. Dr. Perez is a medical physician and member of the Army National Guard whose mother, now deceased, was diagnosed with a condition which would qualify her for compensation if Guam is included in the RECA downwinder provisions. They discuss what brought them into this struggle for environmental and reparative justice, the intent of RECA, the role of PARS, and the symbolic and material significance of federal compensation for radiation exposure for the people of Guam. For more information, they can be contacted at 671-727-PARS.