Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan coalition of five U.S. senators from Idaho, New Mexico and Colorado have asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing into legislative efforts to assist Americans who have suffered health issues as a result of nuclear arms testing in the western U.S. during the Cold War period of the 1950s and 1960s. S. 331, the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) would extend benefits under the existing Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to victims who can demonstrate health issues related to the weapons testing.
“As the United States government built up its Cold War nuclear testing program during the mid-20th century, many Americans paid the price with their health,” the senators wrote in a letter to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). “Considering the importance of RECA to many of our constituents, we respectfully request that you move quickly to hold a hearing to bring to light existing deficiencies in the compensation program and to review our legislation.”
The RECA program was originally created to assist workers in the uranium mining industry who were exposed to harmful radiation levels in the course of assisting the national defense. But the legislation stopped short of helping citizens exposed to airborne radiation from bomb testing in Nevada, New Mexico, Guam and testing locations in the Pacific Ocean.