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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (March 24, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---In what should be welcome news for RMI officials attempting to get the U.S. Congress to provide adequate nuclear compensation, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) last week asked for an extra $7.25 million in the FY 2000 supplemental budget to cover payments to American citizens with approved nuclear claims.

"I do not think it is fair for approved claims to be neglected," he said. "My concern is that the uranium miners and family members who are filing these claims have been through a long, arduous process and ought not to finally have a claim approved only to be told by the Department of Justice that it cannot be paid because the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund has run out of money."

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is a 1990 law written by Domenici. Since the RECA trust fund began making awards in 1992, the Justice Department has approved a total of 3,135 claims valued at close to $232 million.

In the Marshalls, more than 1,600 claims have been approved, but no claimants have received more than 63 percent of their total awards because the number of awards before the Nuclear Claim Trust has exhausted the fund.

Marshalls officials have been meeting in Washington, D.C. to map out strategies for petitioning the Congress to re-open the nuclear compensation issue.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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