Bikini Atoll is part of the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands. The resulting radiation produced by atomic weapons tested in this area by the US after World War II has led to veterans and citizens developing serious health problems, both then and now. If you or a loved one served in the military during Bikini or Enewetak Atoll testing, you likely have questions about why testing happened, its effects, and what compensation may be due to Atomic Veterans or Atomic Cleanup service members. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we answer at the National Cancer Benefits Center.
How Has the Bikini Atoll Testing Affected Health and Environment in the Marshall Islands?
Since WWII, Marshall Islands residents have incurred a wide range of serious health issues related to nuclear fallout from the 23 major atomic device detonations done from 1946 to 1958. In the short-term, people developed radiation sickness with debilitating skin and gastrointestinal impacts. Long-term issues include a variety of cancers and cancer risks and many different types of birth defects and infant deaths. American military personnel directly involved in or near the testing also exhibit these same health issues.
Regarding the natural environment of the Marshall Islands, the United States did endeavor to clean up and cap a huge amount of atomic waste in the Runit Dome during the 1970s. However, current studies show this reservoir may be leaking, poisoning local wildlife. Additionally, soil, groundwater, nature habitats and coral reefs continue to suffer the after- effects of radiation exposure in the area.
Does Nuclear Testing Continue in Bikini Atoll?
No, nuclear testing stopped in 1958. Subsequently, the Partial Test Ban Treaty stopped any additional atomic testing in the Marshall Islands and anywhere else under water, in the atmosphere and in space. However, nuclear weapons development and testing continues in other areas of the world.
What Is the Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefits Program?
This federally funded compensation program awards military service members deemed actual Atomic Veterans $75,000 each if they have been diagnosed with a cancer(s) related to nuclear radiation exposure on or in close proximity to the Marshall Islands (Bikini and Enewetak Atolls) and its testing sites. Other testing sites also may qualify, including some in the state of Nevada.
Non-cancerous conditions may qualify for a lump sum payout of $50,000. Plus, under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA, veterans may qualify for disability payments and for continuing healthcare services at no cost.
Who Else Qualifies for Benefits Through the Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefits Program?
Family members of Atomic Veterans–Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll, and others–may qualify for financial compensation and other benefits if they, too, were in the Marshall Island area during nuclear testing or if they have developed a qualified cancer since that time. Numerous cancers of the digestive tract qualify as well as many leukemias, respiratory tract and reproductive cancers.
Is the Claims Process Complicated?
The claims process can seem intimidating if you have not previously filed for compensation. So, it is important to connect with an experienced and knowledgeable veteran service organization to fully understand entitlement status and compensable benefits. Non-biased, experienced counsel during the claims process is vitally important.
Bikini Atoll Testing Compensation Program
The National Cancer Benefits Center exists to help veterans, their families and other survivors of nuclear testing get the compensation they deserve. We will help you initiate the claims process, follow it to conclusion and to collect.
To learn more, please contact the National Cancer Benefits Center at (800) 414-4328. A helpful claims representative will advise you on your rights and help you with the documents you need for the claims process.
You may also request more information here. We have been helping veterans and their families for over 30 years and would be privileged to serve you and your family.