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ACT NOW: SUPPORT THE RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2024

ACT NOW: SUPPORT THE RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2024

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Congress is currently voting on a bill titled “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2024,” which is sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. This bill presents a crucial opportunity to improve support for individuals impacted by nuclear testing and uranium exposure. The bill proposes to double compensation for “downwinders” from $50,000 to $100,000, expand affected areas, and renew the act for six years— providing much-needed relief for those suffering from health effects due to radiation exposure.

Expanded Benefits to Utahns

In addition to increasing compensation and renewing the act for an 6 more years, this legislation aims to expand RECA coverage to several states and territories, including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Guam. Furthermore, areas of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah currently not covered would also receive benefits under this bill.

Downwinders are individuals who have been exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing. They are often located in the downwind direction from nuclear testing facilities and have experienced various health problems associated with their exposure. Downwinders are generally concerned with the long-term effects of nuclear exposure on their health and the environment. Many have organized advocacy groups to raise awareness about the dangers of radiation exposure and to push for improved safety standards and regulations. Right now, only the southern half of Utah is eligible to apply for downwinder compensation, despite all of Utah having been in the fallout wind pattern during testing.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is a federal program established in 1990 to provide monetary compensation to individuals who contracted cancer or other diseases as a result of their exposure to radiation from atmospheric nuclear testing or from the mining, milling, and transportation of ore related to testing and uranium mining activities during the Cold War The act reflects decades of hard work by downwinders, Navajo Nation members, and other advocates to ensure that the federal government provides partial restitution for the devastating health impacts experienced by some of the US citizens affected by the nuclear weapons and uranium production industries. Read more here.

If you think you might meet the current eligibility requirements of RECA, including being a uranium miner, miller, transporter, or resident of a designated downwinder area during specific time periods between 1951 and 1958, or in 1962, you can still apply for the current program. Compensable diseases include leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphomas, primary cancers, including thyroid, pancreas, stomach, brain, urinary bladder, lung, colon, and ovary. It is important to note that the current RECA program does not cover some diseases, like chronic lymphocytic leukemia or renal diseases, which would be added with the passing of these amendments.

 

You can find more details on the program here or contact the The Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) or Intermountain Health’s Cancer Clinic, where you can find RECA specialists to help you in this process. It is important to note that the process may take some time and patience, but seeking compensation for the harm caused by radiation exposure is worth the effort. If you have more questions, you can contact Intermountain Health’s RECA counselors at 435-251-4760 or the RECA Program directly by telephone at 1-800-729-RECP (1-800-729-7327), or by e-mail at Civil.RECA@usdoj.gov.

Current Coverage and Impact in Utah

Under the current version of RECA, only the southern half of Utah is covered, including counties such as Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Washington, and Wayne. If this bill passes, all of Utah would be eligible for compensation. Requirements would include living in the affected areas for a minimum of two years during specific times and the development of specific illnesses and cancers.

Thyroid Cancer, Male or Female Breast Cancer, Esophagus Cancer, Stomach Cancer, Pharynx Cancer, Small Intestine Cancer, Pancreas Cancer, Bile Ducts Cancer, Gallbladder Cancer, Salivary Gland Cancer, Urinary Bladder Cancer, Brain Cancer, Colon Cancer, Ovary Cancer, Bone Cancer, Renal Cancer, Liver Cancer (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), Lung Cancer. 

Extend and Expand

We urge you to contact your representatives and urge them to support this bill. 

If Hawley’s bill to extend RECA until 2030 does not pass the House, the RECA program will expire this year after June 10, 2024.

Great progress has been made, as the Senate has already passed this bill. Now, we need the support of the House to ensure that downwinders and impacted communities receive the assistance they urgently need.

Take Action

Fill out this action alert to encourage your Representative to sign on to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. (open to all states) 

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