US senators are calling for expanded compensation for those exposed to nuclear fallout

One advocate said radiation exposure continues to affect the youngest generation of families exposed to the consequences of nuclear weapons testing.

(Photo from AP file) This July 16, 1945 photograph shows an aerial view after the first nuclear explosion at the Trinity Test Site. NMUS senators from New Mexico and Idaho are making another push to expand the federal government’s compensation program for people exposed to radiation, uranium mining and nuclear testing during the Cold War. Downwinders who live near where the world’s first atomic bomb was tested in 1945 as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project are among those added to the list.

Albuquerque, NM • US Senators from New Mexico and Idaho are making another push to expand the federal government’s compensation program for people exposed to radiation as a result of Cold War uranium mining and nuclear testing.

Downwinders who live near the New Mexico site where the world’s first atomic bomb was tested in 1945 as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II would also be included on the list.

The legislation would amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include eligible residents in fallout-affected areas in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and the Territory of Guam.

New Mexico Democrat Ben Ray Luján and Idaho Republican Mike Crapo announced Thursday that they would reintroduce the bill to the Senate after previous attempts to expand the program stalled.

The measure was also introduced in the US House of Representatives, with proponents saying the clock is ticking as more people are diagnosed with cancer they say is exposure-related.

Lawmakers hope the momentum gained last year after bipartisan passage of legislation preventing the compensation program from phasing out can be used to expand the program and ensure it doesn’t expire next summer as planned.

The challenge will be getting more Republicans to support the law, said Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and co-founder of the New Mexico-based advocacy group Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. She said many people who would benefit from expanded coverage live in states represented by Republican lawmakers.

Cordova said radiation exposure continues to impact the youngest generation of families exposed to the aftermath of nuclear weapons testing. She pointed to her niece, a 23-year-old college student who was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and the two-year-old granddaughter of a Tularosa family who had an eye removed due to cancer.

“New Mexico has been asked for so much,” Cordova said, citing the state’s role in developing the country’s nuclear arsenal and disposing of the resulting waste. “We’re bearing the brunt of it and they still won’t realize that we were the first people to be exposed to radiation from a nuclear bomb and nobody has looked back.”

Advocates have been trying for years to raise awareness of the ongoing impact of nuclear fallout around the Trinity site in southern New Mexico and on the Navajo Nation, where millions of tons of uranium ore have been mined for decades to fuel U.S. nuclear activities to support.

Under the legislation, eligibility would also be extended to certain workers in the post-1971 industry, such as miners.

The reintroduction of the legislation precedes the 78th anniversary of the Trinity test in New Mexico on July 16 and comes as the federal government prepares to ramp up production at the plutonium mines used to induce nuclear weapons.

Crapo said that while extending the compensation program by another two years is critical, more needs to be done to address the health impact of the nuclear tests on his constituents in Idaho and elsewhere in the West.

For Luján, changing the compensation law was a long struggle. As a member of the US House of Representatives, he has introduced legislation in every session since his first election in 2008.

“Through no fault of their own,” said Luján, “as part of our national defense efforts, these workers and surrounding communities were exposed to radiation that impacted generations to come, without providing the same level of relief available to other communities covered under RECA .”

Since the program began in 1992, more than 54,000 applications have been submitted and approximately $2.6 billion has been awarded for approved applications. An estimated $80 million is needed for the Compensation Trust Fund for fiscal 2024, which began July 1, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Justin Scaccy

InternetCloning is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button