7 Apr 2010

US Supreme Court rejects appeal from Marshall Islands' nuclear test victims

12:56 pm on 7 April 2010

The US Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Marshall Islanders affected by nuclear weapons testing to have the court review their appeals against lower court decisions on compensation.

A panel of United States appeal judges last year 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, the sites of 67 American nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958.

The two atolls had been awarded the money for hardship, loss of use and clean-up by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, a body created by a 1986 test settlement agreement with the US government, that was able to pay only a fraction of the money.

Our correspondent in Majuro says it's now the end of the road in US courts for Bikini and Enewetak islanders.

Giff Johnson says their only course of action now is to appeal to the US congress through the Compact of Free Association.

"It allows the Marshall Islands government to present a petition to the US Congress seeking more compensation. It doesn't obligate the US Congress to give more compensation, but it does provide for this opportunity. The problem is the petition was filed 10 years ago and the US Congress has yet to act on it."

Giff Johnson in the Marshall Islands.