‘Radioactive elements could still be present on Guam’
- By Louella Losinio - [email protected] - Variety News Staff
HAGÅTÑA — During a public hearing on Resolution 127, Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors President Robert Celestial said radioactive elements could still be present in Guam’s land and water.
The resolution seeks to petition the U.S. Congress to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include Guam and to increase compensation for those affected by radiation.
Responding to a question directed to him at the public hearing, Celestial said a Washington University report he submitted to the National Academy of Science stated that from 1974, testing done on Guam fruit, animals, land and water indicated high levels of cesium, strontium, and plutonium.
Although the tests were done almost four decades ago, the half-life of radioactive isotopes is 30 years. A half-life describes the decay of entities such as radioactive atoms.
“So if you add 30 years more to 1974, it goes more. That is why our younger children are being exposed and that is why they are getting sick,” Celestial said.
The exposure dates differ from the denotation timelines of 1946 to 1962, he said, adding, “The continuation of radiation exposure on Guam has been ongoing.”
Once the proposed legislation becomes law, studies are to be done to assess the health impact of the radiation exposure. Amendments may also be proposed later but will prove that over time, the half-life of radioactive isotopes carry on even after detonation.
Sen. Ben Pangelinan introduced the resolution along with Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, and Sen. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas.
Pangelinan said President Obama included an additional $75 million to augment the regional compensation trust fund.
A trust fund has already been started under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, which appropriated $100 million to support claim compensation by individuals who had been exposed to ionizing radiation. The program started processing claims in 1992.
He assured that the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, continues to receive regular funding.