Senate approves extension of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
By Kelsey Turner
The US Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a two-year extension of a law compensating those exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing and uranium mining. the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which is due to expire in July, offers one-time benefit payments to those who have been diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses related to radiation exposure. The extension now awaits House approval.
Since its inception in 1990, RECA has given more than $2.4 billion in benefits to more than 38,000 people in Nevada, Utah and other affected areas. Compensation is available to several groups, including “on-site participants” involved in atmospheric testing of an atomic weapon, “ventilators” who were present in certain areas near test sites, and mine miners. uranium, millers and ore haulers who have worked with uranium. If passed, the extension would give people more time to claim compensation.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez applauded the Senate’s approval of the extension, saying it “demonstrates strong bipartisan support for former uranium miners, downwinds and many others who have to live with the devastating health effects to date”.
In March, Nez met with members of both political parties in Washington, D.C., where he expressed concerns about Navajos experiencing health effects due to radioactive contamination and exposure to abandoned uranium mines.
“This is a united effort by former uranium miners and their families, to obtain just compensation and benefits for the health problems and adverse effects of uranium mining conducted by the federal government,” Nez said in a Navajo Nation. Press release. “The RECA bill is an opportunity for Congress to be part of something historic for the Navajo people, the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee and other concerned groups.”
Nez encouraged lawmakers to work toward a long-term solution that would extend RECA through 2040. A invoice sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo proposes to expand and extend RECA for 19 years after the bill is signed into law.
The Navajo Nation is pushing for this expansion to include all downwinders, create additional categories of uranium workers and radiation-related illnesses, and increase the minimum compensation received by those affected.
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