Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2022
By John LaForge
Both the House and U.S. Senate have approved a two-year extension of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act or RECA, a federal law that compensates some of the U.S. residents who were exposed to radiation during the Cold War.
The act was implemented in 1990, but expires in July unless the extension is signed into law by President Biden. The extension is intended to provide time to craft a larger expansion of the program that could last until 2040.
The law allows one-time payouts for downwinders, uranium miners, uranium mill and transport workers who can establish that they were exposed to radiation from weapons detonations or the workplace.
Congress is considering a separate bill that would broaden the geographic area covered by the act, for example adding New Mexicans to the list of downwinders, including uranium workers contaminated after 1971, and raising the compensation cap to at least $200,000.
Many downwinders and uranium workers are Native Americans and suffer from cancers and other long-term health problems. Navajo Nation leaders are among those urging Congress to expand RECA.