Eligibility For Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Explosions Cancer Claims Close In 2022

Posted on: 21 April 2020

Military veterans who attained cancers owing to nuclear weapons testing are eligible for compensation, but the window to make a claim will close in 2022. 

Dozens of different types of cancers have been associated with nuclear radiation. Owing to the risk of harm to the environment and human life by radiation fallout from nuclear explosions, most countries seized nuclear weapons testing when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was proposed in the 1990s. But for those afflicted with related cancers, the radiation fallout is still part of their everyday lives.  

In 2002, the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control reported 80,000 cancers related to nuclear fallout and 15,000 deaths. The report was remarkable because it was the first official government acknowledgment of cancers caused by nuclear weapons testing. Crucially, this acknowledgment has opened the door to compensation for victims. 

The long duration of nuclear testing in the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands, from 1946 to 1958, and the power of the explosions have produced an especially high number of cancer victims. The victims include inhabitants of Bikini Atoll and nearby islands, Japanese ship crew members and U.S. veterans—by far the largest group exposed.  About 200,000 U.S. veterans are believed to have been affected by atomic radiation. Of the 1,054 atomic weapons tests conducted by the U.S., 106 took place in the Pacific Ocean area.

Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), atomic veterans and their family members are eligible for $75,000 in one-time compensation. To date, the program has awarded $2.3 billion to 36,000 claimants.

Are you eligible?

The Pacific Test Sites include the Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll, and others listed. Atomic veterans who were onsite for atomic tests, and for up to six months after the testing, are eligible for $75,000 in compensation. The type of cancer must be listed on the dozen or so cancers on REC's qualifying list. Those who were present at naval shipyards, Air Force bases, monitoring sites, and other designated areas may also qualify. 

If the claimant is deceased, under survivor's benefits, the benefit may be paid to a spouse, children, or another specified beneficiary. 

Similar compensation is also available to veterans, mine workers, and local downwinders affected by nuclear testing in the South Atlantic, Nevada, or New Mexico test sites.

Notably, RECA is set to expire in 2022. Those who meet the eligibility requirements should consider beginning the claim process soon.  

For more information on Bikini Atoll claims, consult a professional.