Group seeks to reintroduce Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

PARS president Robert Celestial (PNC file photo)

The Pacific Association for Radiation Survivors (PARS) is pushing for the reintroduction of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act which is set to expire next year.

PARS is a 20-year-old non-profit organization that advocates for the inclusion of Guam as a downwinder area under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The RECA program, according to PARS, would provide medical benefits and $150,000 for eligible “Downwinders of Guam” defined as those present in Guam from 1946 to 1962 and who have been diagnosed with one of the cancers associated with radiation exposure.

After a congressionally-mandated investigation, the National Academies of Science concluded in a 2002 published report that Guam should be deemed qualified for RECA as “downwinders” radiation exposure.

Robert Celestial, PARS president,  told K57’s Tony Lamorena that the current RECA program sunset provision ends in 2022 and they are pushing to have the legislation reintroduced.

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“Our bill has died — both in the House and the Senate. So now we have to reintroduce. We are trying to push it to this year this January — Hopefully, the House and the Senate would reintroduce both bills,” Celestial said.

He added: “This is the last year of this program. It was enacted for the downwinders, I believe, in 1990. But then there was an amendment in 2000. The 20 years have come up and this is the last year. If we don’t pass the bill this year, in July of next year, the program ends. And so we really need to push this year.”

PARS will provide updates on the program during its annual general membership meeting and drive on Saturday, January 23 via Zoom. Registration is required to attend the meeting.