19 Dec 2006

Little money available for Marshall Islands Utrik atoll nuclear compensation payout

4:11 pm on 19 December 2006

A hearing is to be held in the Marshall Islands to determine an allocation of funds by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal for Utrik Atoll.

The islanders were awarded more than 307 million U.S. dollars by the Tribunal for the impacts from nuclear fallout as a result of the U.S. nuclear tests during the 1940s and 50s.

The Tribunal is unable to pay out the award because it has insufficient money in its fund to do so.

The lack of funds has also affected Bikini and Enewetak atolls which were awarded a total of nearly a billion dollars in damages but have seen very little of it and have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. over the issue.

U.S. officials says the U.S. has already provided full and final nuclear test compensation through an earlier agreement which provided the Tribunal in 1986 with 150 million dollars to allocate.

The Tribunal's public advocate, Bill Graham, says there is very little left in the fund to be able to hand out.

"The award decision concludes by ordering that a hearing should be set for post judgment proceedings but that would probably be a very small, insignificant amount compared to the total 307 million dollar award. With less than a million dollars in the fund, there's very little obviously that the tribunal can do in terms of making any payment. It would simply just be a token payment."

Bill Graham.