ICYMI: Downwinders' mistreatment must be fixed

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Washington, DC, April 7, 2014 | comments
During the 1950s and early 1960s, the United States government conducted nearly 200 nuclear weapons tests over Nevada. Ionized radiation from these tests, following the prevailing wind patterns, was blown over much of northern Arizona.
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For Immediate Release
Date: April 7, 2014

 

Contact: Garrett Hawkins
Garrett.Hawkins@mail.house.gov

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Guest Column: Downwinders' mistreatment must be fixed
Kingman Daily Miner
By Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04)
April 6, 2014

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the United States government conducted nearly 200 nuclear weapons tests over Nevada. Ionized radiation from these tests, following the prevailing wind patterns, was blown over much of northern Arizona.

In order to compensate the people, also known as "downwinders," who have been diagnosed with specific cancers and chronic diseases that are presumed to have been caused by exposure to this ionized radiation, Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in 1990.

Currently, only the parts of Mohave County north of the Colorado River, commonly referred to as the Arizona Strip, are eligible for compensation under the law - even though all of Apache, Coconino, Gila, Navajo and Yavapai counties are eligible. This serves as an injustice to the residents of Mohave County's southern half. Not only is Mohave County closer in proximity to the Nevada Test Site than the other eligible Arizona counties, it also has the second-highest overall incidence rate of radiation-induced cancer. The National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences both concluded in separate studies that all of Mohave County should be covered by RECA.

To rectify this inequality, I introduced the Mohave County Radiation Compensation Act (H.R.424), which would make all affected residents of Mohave County eligible for radiation-exposure compensation. From the moment the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was first passed, a portion of Mohave County was unjustifiably left out. My common-sense legislation will right this wrong and ensure that everyone in Mohave County whose health has deteriorated as a result of government testing is rightfully compensated.

The original parameters of RECA were created and passed by Congress, so it falls to Congress to remedy this injustice. That is why I am holding a downwinders field hearing in Kingman on April 14, which will take place from 10 a.m. to noon in the Mohave County Board of Supervisors auditorium on 700 W. Beale St. We will be discussing RECA and my bill and will hear testimony from Mohave County downwinders, experts, advocates, and local leaders. I invite you to join us and hope to see you there.

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