16 Feb 2004

A Marshall Islands official says locals devastated nuclear study funds withdrawn.

4:49 pm on 16 February 2004

A Marshall Islands official says local people are devastated about the taking away of hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for nuclear studies.

Bikini Atoll Liaison officer, Jack Niedenthal, says the Department of Energy removed over 700-thousand US dollars of funding for Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's radiological studies without any consultation.

Mr Niedenthal says the funding shortfall will result in the Bikini Field station being closed as well as other studies on neighbouring atolls.

He says the projects are vital for peoples' peace of mind, 50 years after U.S. nuclear testing on the islands.

"They're relying on these studies to tell them what's up with their island, and we don't understand, the people of Bikini don't understand, how are we supposed to get these studies done. Are we supposed to pay for these studies to get down with our own money when it was the US that actually did all the testing."

Mr Niedenthal says the U.S. government is investigating the matter.