Nov 17 2011

Senate Approves Risch-Crapo Resolution Recognizing Downwinders

Establishes National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Radiation

Washington, DC – Idahoans and residents of states adversely affected by nuclear fallout from arms testing during the Cold War era deserve greater attention and compensation for health problems related to the above ground tests.  For that reason, Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo have joined several colleagues in the U.S. Senate to introduce a resolution bringing more attention to the "downwinders" who were exposed many years ago.  The resolution, S. Res. 330, passed the Senate last night by unanimous consent.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Michael Bennett (D-Colorado), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado), designates January 27, 2012, as a "national day of remembrance for Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing."

The Senate resolution adds:

"Whereas on January 27, 1951, the first nuclear weapons test in the United States commenced at a site known as the Nevada Proving Ground, located approximately 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada;

Whereas many Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites (referred to in this preamble as "downwinders") were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing, and some of the downwinders sickened as a result of the radiation exposure;

Whereas the downwinders paid a high price for the development of a nuclear weapons program for the benefit of the United States; and

Whereas the downwinders deserve to be recognized for the sacrifice they have made for the defense of the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate-

(1) designates January 27, 2012, as a national day of remembrance for many Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing; and

(2) encourages the people of the United States to support and participate in appropriate ceremonies, programs, and other activities to commemorate January 27, 2012."

Risch and Crapo reintroduced legislation earlier this session to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to provide expanded restitution for Americans exposed to atomic weapons tests, in addition to former workers in uranium mines.  Among other things, the RECA Amendments of 2010 would build upon previous RECA legislation by further widening qualifications for compensation for radiation exposure; qualifying post 1971 uranium workers for compensation; and expanding the downwind exposure area to include seven states.

The legislation also expands eligible downwind areas to include all of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah for the Nevada Test Site; New Mexico for the Trinity Test Site; and Guam for the Pacific tests.

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