Sunday, April 3, 2016

6,000 Enewetak Atoll Veterans Wait for Justice

Enewetak Atoll cleanup vets, facing cancer, hope long-shot 'atomic veteran' bill becomes law
Bangor Daily News, Maine
By Abigail Curtis
Published: April 3, 2016

Laird and Dean were among approximately 6,000 American soldiers tasked with rehabilitating the atoll between 1977 and 1980 before it was returned to the people of the Marshall Islands.
BANGOR, Maine (Tribune News Service) — Congress is considering a bill that would create a special “atomic veteran” designation for the men and women who worked to clean up nuclear waste from a South Pacific atoll nearly 40 years ago, a move that Maine veteran Paul Laird says was a long time coming.

But Laird, a 59-year-old from Otisfield who served with the U.S. Army’s 84th Engineer Battalion on Enewetak Atoll and who is a three-time cancer survivor, said that the bill has only a slim chance of becoming law — and that is not acceptable to him. As of now, only 30 co-sponsors have officially signed on to the bill, which is a number the Mainer said does not seem like enough.

“We are not seeing people jump up and down to get onboard,” he said earlier this month. “We’re a little disappointed. We’re trying however we can to get the word out, but people just don’t seem to think it’s very important.”
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