Radiation Survivors president testifies before Senate subcommittee

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L-R: Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje, U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Celestial (RET), and Candidate for Lt. Governor of Guam Fred Bordallo, Jr.

Guam may get ‘Downwinder’ status

Guam – Good news for Guam’s ‘Downwinders’ has arrived from the nation’s capital. Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors President and Guam resident Robert Celestial has just testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Judiciary.

The hearing was on Senate Bill 197, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act’s Amendments Act of 2018 (RECA Amendments Act). The legislation aims to include Guam as a downwind area. U.S. Army Sgt. Celestial (RET), delivered his remarks in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Here is an excerpt from Celestial’s testimony:

“On October 31, 1952, the first thermonuclear device, with a code name ‘MIKE’, was detonated.  It had a total yield of 10.4 megaton[s]. On November 3, 1952, three days later, radiation was detected on Guam. In 2005, the National Research Council’s final report was published, and, quote, ‘the assessment of the scientific information for the radiation exposure screening and education program,’ [end] quote, and on page 200, quote, ‘the committee initiated an independent assessment of the radiologic consequences related to the weapons test in the Pacific to people living in Guam,’ [end] quote. This was their conclusion. Quote, ‘conclusion: every result of this analysis [concludes] that Guam did receive measurable fallout from testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific…Guam appeared to be eligible for compensation under RECA…similar to persons considered to be Downwinders.’”

Downwinder status would provide free medical care and compensatory damages to those from Guam suffering from the lingering effects of radiation poisoning caused by U.S. nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, Guam Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje, and Candidate for Lt. Gov. of Guam Fred Bordallo, Jr., also attended Wednesday’s RECA Amendments Act hearing, along with various members of Congress.

A press release from Terlaje’s office follows.

VICE SPEAKER TERLAJE CONGRATULATES PARS AND AFFIRMS INCLUSION IN RECA IS OVERDUE

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 28, 2018 – Hagåtña) –Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje commends the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors and their president Robert Celestial for his historic testimony today in front of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Senate Bill 197, also known as the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments Act of 2017, which would include Guam as one of the downwind areas.

“I congratulate Robert Celestial and the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors and all of those who have helped them along the way, for their work and personal sacrifice in continuing to advocate for justice for Guam. These few work out of love for the benefit of many, many people on Guam who are suffering from cancer and other radiation related illness. I am very grateful, and am trying my best to ensure that we as leaders do all we can to support and continue this fight for justice, compassion, and health,” Vice Speaker Terlaje stated.

Vice Speaker Terlaje also submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing her support for S. 197.  According to the U.S. Census, the population of Guam between 1940 and 1960 ranged from 22,290 to 67,044 inhabitants.  This is the number of people who were exposed to radiation as downwinders during the time of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. (Please see the attached written testimony from Vice Speaker Terlaje.)

“It’s an unsettling truth that our family members were exposed to radiation from U.S. nuclear testing, and suffer from cancer and other illnesses. The U.S. government provides free medical care and compassionate compensation to people from other jurisdictions that were exposed. Since the findings in 2005, Guam’s inclusion in RECA is overdue. Compassion, medical care, and justice for the people of Guam suffering from cancer is equally warranted,” Vice Speaker Terlaje stated. ###