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Residents of Bikini and Enewetak sued for ruined atolls

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, February 1, 2009) – A panel of United States appeal judges has dismissed a claim that sought to enforce a more than one billion US dollar nuclear test compensation settlement for the people of Bikini and Enewetak, in the Marshall Islands.

But a Washington D.C.-based attorney for the Bikini islanders, Jonathan Weisgall, says the ruling does not exonerate the U.S. government for removing the islanders from their homeland, and leaving the atoll uninhabitable.

The judges upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing claims filed in 2006 by the people of Bikini and Enewetak, the sites of 67 American nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958.

The two atolls had been awarded more than 1 billion US dollars for hardship, loss of use and clean up by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, a body created by a 1986 test settlement agreement with the U.S. government.

But the Tribunal lacked funds to pay the award and the two communities sought U.S. court action to force the U.S. government to pay the compensation.

Jonathan Weisgall says it is indeed sad that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has closed its doors to the people of Bikini.

But, he says, the Bikinians are not giving up and they will continue to seek justice from the other branches of the U.S. government

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