The 1,100 displaced people of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands have taken their case to the United Nations General Assembly. They want the United States to clean up the remaining radiological damage to the island resulting from US nuclear tests in 1946-58.
The Bikinians have been living on Kili - an isolated, rock-bound, 200-acre islet with no lagoon or port - for 38 years now. Tuesday they asked the UN to request an opinion from the World Court of Justice on whether the US is obligated under the US Trusteeship Agreement to clean up Bikini Atoll.
The UN-mandated trusteeship may end next spring, if the US Congress approves a Compact of Free Association approved by the Marshallese in 1983. It would establish a $150 million trust for compensation, a nuclear claims tribunal, health education, perpetual health care for those affected by the nuclear program. It would terminate pending lawsuits against the US and give Bikinians a
The compact would commit the US to ''provide funds for the resettlement of Bikini Atoll by the people of Bikini at a time which cannot now be determined.'' However, it does not specify a cleanup.
The cleanup can be done for $50 million, according to the Bikini Atoll Rehabilitation Committee, a group of scientists whose study was funded by the US Congress.
On Oct. 10, an American judge refused to dismiss the Bikinians lawsuit for $ 450 million in damages.
Bikinians are wealthy by Micronesian standards; their case is not popular among Micronesians. In addition to the future Compact's $75 million, they have received a $6 million trust, a $21 million relocation fund, houses, and food. Some Micronesians note Bikinians will have money to clean Bikini themselves.
Bikinian Sen. Henchy Balos supports the compact, which ''provides funds in time to compensate the elderly, who may never return home.''