16 Oct 2004

Marshalls atoll files claim for nuclear damages

8:25 am on 16 October 2004

Likiep, a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands which was dusted with nuclear test fallout in the 1950s, has filed a class action suit seeking compensation for damage from American nuclear tests.

United States-based attorneys Craig Miller and James Walsh filed a 17-page claim yesterday on behalf of Likiep with the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in Majuro.

The Tribunal, established in 1986 with funding from the U.S. government, has only US$5 million left in its compensation fund.

However, it has already approved land damage awards for the nuclear test sites of Bikini and Enewetak that amount to more than US$1 billion and personal injury awards of more than US$14 million dollars.

The tribunal is reviewing class action suits like Likiep's from three other nuclear test-affected atolls.

The Likiep suit claims that the prosperous economic, employment and education status enjoyed by island residents was disrupted by nuclear testing between 1946 and 1958.

The suit cites a report by the US Navy in 1948 which states that the economic status of the people of the atoll is considered excellent.

The report says Likiep Island might well be used as a standard that other islands might attain.