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"A-bomb damage, then, is so complex and extensive that it cannot be reduced to any single characteristic or problem.  It must be seen overall, as an inter-related array – massive physical and human loss, social disintegration, and psychological and spiritual shock – that affects all life and society.  Only then can one grasp the seriousness of its total impact on the biological systems that sustain life and health, on the social systems that enable people to live and work together, and on the mental functions that hold these two dimensions in integrated unity.  The essence of atomic destruction lies in the totality of its impact on man and society and on all the systems that affect their mutual continuation."

 - Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings by the
  Committee on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. 1981. Basic Books.

            List of Radiation-induced [Radiogenic]
               Disorders for Compensation from the  
                             Nuclear Claims Tribunal
In order to qualify for the compensation being offered by the U.S. government through the [now-defunct] Nuclear Claims Tribunal, a person had to (a) have been physically present in the Marshall Islands between 1946-1958 [the nuclear testing years], and (b) have contracted one of the following 36 radiogenic disorders. These 36 radiogenic disorders are referred to as "presumptive disorders" because it is presumed they were caused by radiation.  [The Nuclear Claims Tribunal derives from the Section 177 agreement in the 1986 Compact of Free Association.] 
[Source:  Nuclear Claims Tribunal Annual Report 2005, p. 26] 

Personal Injury Claims

Pursuant to §23(13) of the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal Act 1987, as amended, the Tribunal adopted regulations in August 1991 establishing a list of 25 medical conditions which are irrebuttably presumed to be the result of the Nuclear Testing Program. Those regulations were amended by the Tribunal and approved by the Cabinet of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in January 1994 to add two additional conditions (numbers 26 and 27 below) to the presumed list. Effective October 1, 1996, the regulations were again amended by the Tribunal and approved by the Cabinet to include seven additional conditions (numbers 28-34 below). Based on a 1996 report from the Radiation Effects Research Foundation entitled Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors, bone cancer was added to the list in 1998 (number 35 below).  Autoimmune thyroiditis was added to the list in 2003 (number 36 below).

For eligible claimants, the administratively presumed medical conditions and the amounts of compensation for each that will be paid in pro rata annual payments are as follows:







[Source:  Nuclear Claims Tribunal

 Annual Report 2005, p. 26]



Property Damage Claims

Note:  These three Expert Witness testimonies on behalf of Rongelap's and Utrok's 2002  claim of land damage from the N-Tests - aka "Consequential Damages" in legal terms -   are provided here in PDF format to download.  

Also pending before the Tribunal are many claims for damage to property.  The large class action claims for the peoples of Enewetak, Bikini, Rongelap and Utrik were given priority over individual land damage claims.  The Tribunal has issued its decision in the claims of the people of Enewetak and the people of Bikini.  The pending claims in Rongelap and Utrik near completion.  The people of Ailuk have recently filed a class action claim for property damage.  It is the view of the Tribunal that resolution of these class action claims will provide precedent for the determination of the remaining property damage claims.

 Establishment of a Radiation Protection Standard

 A major category of damage in the class action property claims is cleanup and rehabilitation of the atolls and islands involved.  The Tribunal consolidated the class action property claims then before it and set a formal hearing date in November 1998 to consider establishing a radiation protection standard upon which it would rely in considering claims for such cleanup and rehabilitation of islands and atolls that remain contaminated as a result of the Nuclear Testing Program.”

 Among the expert witnesses who testified at the November hearing was Mr. Allan Richardson, recently retired Associate Director for Radiation Policy with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Mr. Richardson provided a copy of a memorandum from EPA clarifying guidance for establishing cleanup levels for radioactive contamination at U.S. sites.[1] The memorandum states that “All remedial actions . . . must be protective of human health and the environment” and that “Cleanup should generally achieve a level of risk within the 10-4 and 10-6 carcinogenic risk range based on the reasonable maximum exposure for an individual.”

 The memorandum notes that EPA has determined that the cleanup level of 25 millirem per year established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1997 (equivalent to approximately 5 x 10-4 increased lifetime risk) with exemptions allowing dose limits of up to 100 millirem (equivalent to 2 x 10-3 increased lifetime risk) would not properly protect the public.

 Claimants also entered into evidence a 1985 document issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which states “As a basic principle, policies and criteria for radiation protection of populations outside national borders from releases of radioactive substances should be at least as stringent as those for the populations within the country of release.”[2]

 In December 1998, the Tribunal issued a Memorandum of Decision and Order in which it stated that the IAEA principle “whereby the victims of a transboundary exposure are treated no less favorably than the citizens of the offending country, is consistent with the Tribunal’s policy of comparability with U.S. policies and procedures” in its personal injury compensation program. The Tribunal extended that principle to the situation in the Marshall Islands where the U.S. conducted nuclear testing.  The Tribunal determined that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund) governs the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the U.S. such as the Nevada Test Site and that if the Marshall Islands were in the U.S., both CERCLA and the EPA cleanup guidance standard would apply to them.

 The Tribunal Decision concluded by adopting the “policies and criteria” set out in the 1997 EPA memorandum which provides that “If a dose assessment is conducted at the site then 15 millirem per year (mrem/yr) effective dose equivalent (EDE) should generally be the maximum dose limit for humans.”  That standard will provide the basis on which evidence will be presented to the Tribunal for it to determine the need for and cost of radiological rehabilitation of any atolls where such action may be warranted.

[1]   EPA memo dated Aug 22 1997 entitled “Establishment of Cleanup Levels for CERCLA Sites with Radioactive Contamination”


 Health Effects of Radiation - Fallout in the U.S.

Expert testimony by anthropologists Holly Barker    & Barbara Rose-Johnston on behalf of Rongelap's  2001 claim of "Consequential Damages" from the  N-Tests.  Click here for the PDF file and for the      NCT final judgment here                                    

Expert testimony by anthropologist Glenn Alcalay,   sociologist Kai Erikson & psychiatrist Robert Jay     Lifton on behalf of Utrok's 2002 claim of "Conse-      quential Damages" from the N-Tests.  Click here for the Alcalay testimony, here for the Erikson-Lifton     testmony, and here for the NCT final judgment.        

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Dennis O'Rourke-NPR-1986-"Half Life" - Unknown Artist
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Listen to this 6-minute 1986 NPR interview with Dennis O'Rourke re: "Half Life"

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