MARSHALLS NUCLEAR COMPENSATION ACT REVISED

News Release

Republic of the Marshall Islands Embassy Washington, D.C. November 8, 2007

The Embassy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands has been provided with new version of S. 1756, the "Republic of the Marshall Islands Supplemental Nuclear Compensation Act of 2007" that makes several important and substantive changes to the original legislation introduced this past summer.

The new version of S.1756 is a substitute for the original version currently pending before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and it is anticipated that the substituted version will be passed when the Committee meets to do a "mark-up" of the legislation in the near future.

The most important change in the bill concerns health care. S.1756 would now provide for a "Supplemental Health Care Grant" in the annual amount of US$4.5 million, on a permanent appropriation basis and adjusted for inflation like other amounts available under the Compact through 2023. The original version of S. 1756 provided the sum of US$2 million annually for healthcare.

The purposes of the Supplemental Health Care Grant have also been expanded: (1) to provide Enewetak, Bikini, Ailuk, Rongelap, Utrik, Likiep, Mejit, Wotho, Wotje, and Ujelang Atolls with enhanced primary healthcare with an emphasis on providing regular screenings for radiogenic illnesses by upgrading existing facilities, or by providing quarterly medical field team visits; (2) to improve the capabilities of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to provide secondary treatment for radiogenic illnesses; and (3) to construct and operate a whole body counting facility on Utrik.

The new version of S. 1756 also makes improvements to the provisions calling for the monitoring of Runit through specifying visual inspections; radiochemical analysis of groundwater conditions; and a requirement to report on any potential adverse health impacts to the people of Enewetak.

Provisions making Marshallese eligible for the benefits of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act of 2000, (EEOICA) remain in place with some technical changes.

"The substituted version of S. 1756 makes important and substantive changes that directly respond to the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ current needs and to the requests President Note made to Chairman Bingaman in August of this year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chairman Bingaman; Ranking Member Domenici, Senator Akaka and Senator Murkowski for all of their efforts. The Republic of the Marshall Islands looks forward to continuing to work with you to address all of the consequences of the nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands", said Ambassador de Brum.

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