Activists: postwar dairy products may be contaminated with radioactive
By Mar-Vic CaguranganVariety News Staff
The recent discovery linking the radioactive fission products found in Japan shores to Pacific nuclear testing could prop up Guam’s claim that the island has suffered from radioactive fallout, according to Dr. W. Chris Perez, an officer of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors.“I believe Guam, in her quest for inclusion, has as much, if not more, scientific data in support than other jurisdictions which are now rightfully included under the (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act) as downwind affected area,” Perez stated in a letter to Isaf Al-Nabulsi, senior program officer of the Board of Radiation Effects Research.BRER is currently reviewing Guam’s demand for inclusion in RECA as a fallout area.Al-Nabusi earlier wrote to PARS president Robert Celestial asking the group to assist the committee in gathering scientific data to support Guam’s claim.One of the issues that Al-Nabusi wanted to find out was the source of milk consumed by Guam residents after the nuclear tests to determine if some of the illnesses suffered by residents could be attributed to the consumption of those dairy products.“Anecdotal history will reveal that post-war Guam population depended on human bovine and goat milk as a primary source of fresh milk for the children, “ Perez stated in his letter to Al-Nabusi.He said that powdered “Blue Seal” milk reconstituted with local fresh water on Guam provided a supplemental source of milk.“The innoculum of radiation from radioactive iodine fallout may not be reliably scientifically calculable but the evidence of its presence on Guam temporally and geographically related to the nuclear weapon testing cannot be denied,” Perez said.The Atomic Energy Commission conducted nuclear tests on Enewitok Atoll in Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958. A total of 67 atomic and thermonuclear bombs were detonated during those years, resulting in fallout across the Pacific. The explosion led to worldwide recognition of the nature of radioactive fallout.It was recently reported that some of the radioactive debris fell on the Lucky Dragon, a Japanese vessel engaged in tuna fishing about 160 km from the test site. This radioactive dust was later analyzed by Japanese scientists. The results demonstrated that the bomb that dusted the Lucky Dragon with fallout was more than just an H-bomb.“Recent news of discovery of radioactive fission products around Japan’s eastern shores determined to have originated in and produced by the Pacific nuclear weapon testing support the assertion that Guam also received radiation contamination by ocean current convention, “ Perez said.“Absence of sufficient evidence is not evidence of absence. In Guam’s case, the recorded data is more than suggestive and although not conclusive is very persuasive and merits official study and research at the very least,” he added.Federal officials last year were convinced that Guam would qualify for RECA program as an “onsite participant” based on testimonies revealing that those who worked in the Naval Base in the 1950s were affected by military activities on base at the height of nuclear testing.Celestial said Apra Harbor Guam was used to decontaminate ships brought over from Marshall Islands. These ships, he added, were highly contaminated with ionizing radiation and plutonium that placed those in contact with the ships at risk.Celestial said the wash down from these ships in Guam harbors might have exposed residents to ionizing radiation and plutonium.Lt. Gov. Kaleo Moylan, in his capacity and acting governor, and Speaker Mark Forbes wrote separate letters to Al-Nabusi in support of PARS’s claim.RECA, enacted in 1990, established procedures to make partial compensation to individuals who contracted serious diseases as a result of nuclear tests. The federal government has paid more than $700 million to 10,637 radiation victims and their families across the nation.