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Honolulu Advertiser Honolulu, Hawaii

May 16, 2000

Editorial Demeaning

John T. Harrison, Ph.D.

University of Hawai‘i

Regarding the Advertiser’s May 10 editorial urging full payment of the $341 million claim for residents of Enewetak (see http://pidp.ewc.hawaii.edu/PIReport/2000/May/05-15-10.htm ):

Your comments imply that the United States has not previously extended compensation to the people of Enewetak for use of their atoll and subsequent medical claims.

You fail to mention that for three years starting in 1977, the United States conducted a massive cleanup and rehabilitation of Enewetak Atoll, completed in March of 1980, at a cost of $218 million.

Further, under Section 177 of the Compact of Free Association signed (for the second time) on June 25, 1983, and ratified by the people of the Marshall Islands on September 7, 1983, an additional $150 million was provided as a principal settlement, with the provision that it be invested and generate an annual rate of return of not less than $18 million. Over the 15 years following this settlement, the minimum $270 million income was to be allocated among various recipients, including $75 million for the Bikini people, $48.75 million additionally for the Enewetak people, $37.5 million for the people of Rongelap and $22.5 million for the people of Utirik.

Among other things, the compact specified that the principal should be maintained intact, and that these income disbursements were to be used for food, technical assistance, provision of ongoing radiological monitoring, and ongoing medical surveillance and treatment.

You describe Ujelang Atoll as "inhospitable." You fail to note that, following repatriation in 1980, about 100 Enewetakese chose to return to Ujelang, and the United States continued to provide food, medical supplies and transportation to support them.

The Marshall Islands Claims Tribunal, in fact, was established by Section 177 of the compact.

I was a researcher at the Mid Pacific Research Laboratory, living on Enewetak during those years, and I can personally attest to the effort and expense of atoll rehabilitation efforts undertaken by the United States. I also can attest to the warmth and hospitality of our Enewetak friends and neighbors after their repatriation, and to their gratitude, both for our presence and for the continuing assistance the United States provided.

For additional reports from The Honolulu Advertiser, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Honolulu Advertiser.

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