Presentation of the bipartite and bicameral bill for the expansion of RECA

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September 22, 2021

Extends benefits under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) for those exposed to fallout

Washington DC–U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) introduced bipartisan legislation, S. 2798, designed to extend and extend eligibility for the RECA program to those who have suffered from cancers linked to fallout from surface nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War era of the 1950s and 1960s. compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. The program currently limits compensation to people who lived in parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona at the time of testing, despite scientific studies indicating that the fallout and radiation reached a number of Mountain West States. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-New Mexico) introduced similar legislation in the United States House of Representatives.

Senate legislation would update the current RECA program by expanding geographic eligibility for the downwind to include residents of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. The Senate bill would expand the eligibility of certain people working in uranium mines, mills or transporting uranium ore. It would also increase the amount of compensation a person can receive and extend the RECA program for 19 years after its enactment. RECA is currently scheduled to end in 2022.

“For over a decade, I introduced legislation to compensate downwinders and unfortunately we are losing a lot to old age and cancer” Senator Crapo said. “Congress must pass this vital bill while there is still time to help those still with us.”

“Former uranium miners who are sick and dying and leeward communities whose air and water have been poisoned deserve to be treated fairly by their government. While there can never be a price tag for the health or life of a loved one, Congress has the opportunity to do good to all who have sacrificed themselves in the service of our national security by strengthening RECA ” , said Senator Luján. “For over a decade, I have been fighting alongside affected communities to expand and expand RECA. It is about justice and doing what is right, and there is no time to waste.

“New Mexicans have suffered the adverse effects of nuclear testing and uranium mining for decades,” said Representative Leger Fernández. “These are not abstract issues for New Mexicans. Our communities, especially communities of color, suffered when we tested nuclear bombs and mined uranium for those bombs on our lands. Our government must correct this mistake, we must compensate those who fight cancer, leukemia and other diseases caused by radiation exposure. That is exactly what this bill does. We cannot continue to ignore these injustices. This bill will ensure that injured parties continue to receive compensation and expand the current law to cover communities that have been left behind to deal with the repercussions on their own. It is time they received fair compensation.

Co-sponsors of Senate legislation include: Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Martin Heinrich ( D-New Mexico).

House legislation co-sponsors include: Reps Burgess Owens (R-Utah), Jim McGovern, (D-Massachusetts), Juan Vargas (D-California), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia), Steven Horsford (D-Nevada), Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona), Dina Titus (D-Nevada), Greg Stanton (D-Arizona), Barbara Lee (D-California), Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania), Suzan DelBene (D -Washington), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Yvette Herrell (R-New Mexico), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam) and Derek Kilmer (D-Washington).

Crapo chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the RECA program in June 2018. Tona Henderson, of Emmett, Idaho, and leader of the Idaho Downwinders organization, testified at the hearing and paid tribute to those from his community who have died due to radiation-related illnesses. His birthplace of Gem County, Idaho, received the third highest number of spinoffs in the country according to a 1997 National Cancer Institute study.

“We must compensate all states that were harmed in the tests, which is exactly what Senator Crapo and Senator Lujan’s bill will do,” said Tona Henderson, executive director of the Idaho Downwinders organization. “Offsetting just a few counties or individual states does nothing to help all of the Western Downwinders who have suffered for over 70 years – many of whom have already lost their lives and many are still struggling. We applaud Senator Crapo, Senator Risch and Senator Lujan. ”

“I have been working with Downwind and Uranium workers from all over New Mexico for over 16 years now to see us added to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. We are the citizens of the United States who have been injured in the development and testing of nuclear devices. We can no longer be ignored. Let anyone remain complacent knowing that this story makes them complicit in the horrendous injustice of it all. It’s time for people in New Mexico and other places like Guam and Idaho to receive the restorative justice they have been waiting for decades. Regardless of the price, ” said Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. “We thank Senator Luján for his tireless work and dedication to our cause. He is our hero. We will never forget everything he did.

In addition to extending the coverage area, Crapo and Luján’s The RECA legislation would provide coverage for other forms of cancer, increase compensation from $ 50,000 to $ 150,000 for those affected, and improve benefits for uranium workers and tribal residents exposed to the fallout. Updates to this version of the bill include an expanded list of radiation-related cancers considered eligible for compensation, additional cost savings for those attempting to file a claim, and improved date ranges for the claim. eligibility for downwind.

The full text of the bill can be found HERE.

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