Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) joined Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03) to introduce the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2021. This bipartisan bill expands RECA, a program championed by former Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), to those who have suffered from cancers and other diseases related to fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War period of the 1950s and 1960s.
“Radiation exposure caused by the U.S. atomic weapon development program forever destroyed lives and livelihoods in Utah,” said Rep. Owens. “It has been over twenty years since any meaningful reform to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act – now is the time for the federal government to renew its support and right these wrongs.”
Specifically, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2021 would:
Extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund from July 10, 2022, until 19 years after enactment of the legislation.
Expand eligibility for compensation payments to cover additional diseases and downwinder communities, including Utah.
Expand eligibility for compensation payments to cover uranium core drillers and DOE mediation workers.
Increase compensation payments to $150,000.
Direct HHS to establish a grant program to study the epidemiological impacts of uranium milling and mining.
The Senate companion bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico).
Co-sponsors of the House legislation include: Representatives Jim McGovern, (D-MA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Dina Titus (D-NV), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Yvette Herrell (R-NM), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA).