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Why National Memorial Day for Downwinders is Not Enough

 

Peaceful Demonstration with Trinity Downwinders at the Trinity Site Open House in New Mexico, (LR): Tina Cordova and Laura Greenwood. Trinity loopholes have been struggling to be included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for over 15 years. Source: Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

No doubt the US government killed and sick through most of his own people explosive nuclear test: death toll estimates From nuclear testing in the United States varies greatly tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. But the damage doesn’t stop there. Other nuclear weapons activities such as uranium mining, production, and waste storage and disposal also caused unknown deaths and diseases. As is often the case, those who bear the heaviest burden of these activities are often people of color, Indigenous communities, women and children, and inhabitants poor, rural communities. These people are the largely ignored, often forgotten losses of the Cold War and the US nuclear weapons program.

Senate unanimously in 2011 Set January 27pearl “A national memorial day for Americans who worked on nuclear test sites during the Cold War and lived under the wind and were adversely affected by radiation exposure from above-ground nuclear weapons tests.” That was long finisheddue date: [Between1945and1992[1945ile1992arasındatThe United States conducted more than 1000 nuclear weapon testsand 216 of them were above ground or underwater. These tests spread radioactive fallout across the country.

The science behind nuclear weapons damage

Scientific research on the effects of these activities is often too little and too late. The government largely neglected to adequately monitor radiation fallout and timely exposureto. While this data is available, or when concerns about harm arise, often actively subdued by the government out of fear responsibility and shed a negative light on nuclear weapon development. All tIt means that when studies are tried decades later, it is extremely difficult to obtain accurate data on exposure and health outcomes. But still research and studies current paint a clear picture of damage. For example:

County exposure levels to Iodine 131 from a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute in 1997. Some of the highest exposure levels in the country were in Idaho and Montana, hundreds of miles from the Nevada Test Site. National Institute of Health.

  • In 1950, before the tests began Nevada Test Sitegovernment officials met to discuss expected security issues, and accepted People reversing the tests would be exposed to more radiation than was considered medically safe. In 1984 a federal court, TO US the government was negligent in monitoring exposure and maintaining wind direction.
  • A 1997 study From the National Cancer Institute (NCI) he guessed Tests performed at the Nevada Test Site may have caused between 11,000 and 212,000 cases of thyroid cancer. Note that this study only looked at thyroid cancer caused by Iodine 131. (I-131)Any other disease known to be caused by I-131 or any other radioioactive contaminants.
  • A study Completion in 2020, [1945[1945The New Mexico Trinity Test (the first nuclear weapon test ever completed) alone is probably 1,000 cancer cases. One last study also shows a sharp increase in infant mortality associated with the test.
  • Studies Since 1930s showed a clear link between cancers and others. fatal diseases caused by be exposed to radon and other dangerous metals and chemicals It is found in uranium mines and mills. In 1960s countless especially studies on US uranium miners are clearly shown Increased illnesses and deaths associated with chronic radiation exposure.
  • At 1980, one Disease Control Centers study The health of veterans participating in atmospheric testing showed much higher rates of leukemia compared to other service units.Mbers.
  • There are numerous studies linking radiation exposure to cancer and other diseases. life study About the survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Beyond current science, every community involved in nuclear weapons industrial complex can share the story after the story overwhelming diseases, whole families devastated by cancer, and “Death Miles” – streets or neighborhoods full of cancer cases and deaths. Unable to get proper work and support from the government, these communities have conducted community health work for years and compiled lists of lost loved ones.

In light of this incredible damage, the US government has an obligation to do more than recognize this harm. They must provide compensation and health care to these communities for the cancers and other illnesses they continue to suffer. One way to do this is, Radiation Exposure Compensation Actor RECA.

What is the Radiation Exposure Compensation Law?

RECA one federal p programrides lump sum compensation to individuals with diseases due to nuclear weapon activities. People from three groups can apply:

  1. Uranium miners, millers and ore carriers who worked in the uranium industry from 1942 to 1971 are eligible for $ 100,000.
  2. “On-site participants” of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests (these may be military officers or civilian contractors employed at US nuclear weapons testing sites) are eligible for $ 75,000.
  3. Downwinders (individuals living under the wind of the Nevada Test Site) are eligible for $ 50,000.

RECA also provides funding for local health centers and nonprofits to conduct cancer screening and support individuals in filling RECA requests. Everyone who applies must have a certain remediable illness and have worked or lived in a designated place for a specified period of time.

RECA was founded in 1990 and expanded somewhat in 1992 and 2000. As of January 2021, RECA has paid roughly $ 2.44 billion to 37,757 people. This is a small drop in a very large nuclear spending bucket. By comparison, Stephen Schwartz, author of Atomic Audit, estimates that the US has spent at least $ 1.2 trillion on its nuclear weapons arsenal and related programs since 1990.

Geographic areas currently under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Many exposed communities have been marginalized and are struggling to expand coverage. Ministry of Justice.

Extending and extending RECA

RECA is a valuable program, and its legalization was a big step towards bringing the injured to justice. But still they have major flaws. Very exposed communities still Excluded from RECA. The amount of compensation has not changed in the last 30 years despite inflation and did not go too far even in 1990 true payment of health care costs for cancer treatment. Perhaps most importantly, RECA is expected to end in July 2022. This cannot be allowed to happen. Because of these great worries, members of affected communities he called them Congress members to promotionto Legislation to expand and expand RECA.

This is the biggest of bills (HR 3783) It was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2019. Here has mother ways legislation will improve the program:

  • Extend RECA to 2045.
  • Expand underwind suitability areas to include highly radiated Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Guam and Colorado, and expand coverage in the current lower wind states of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.
  • Extend uranium worker eligibility to include:
    • Employees in the uranium industry from 1971 to 1990. Currently, thousands of uranium workers working in mines after 1971 cannot apply for compensation.
    • Uranium core borers and those involved in remediation efforts of uranium mines or mills.
    • Additional compensable diseases
  • Extend eligibility to participants involved in the cleanup mission of the Marshall Islands’ Enewetak Atoll from 1977-1981.
  • Increase the lump-sum indemnity amount to $ 150,000 for all plaintiffs and allow persons who have previously received RECA compensation in the past to receive the full $ 150,000.
  • Allow those subjected to atmospheric tests to receive the same medical benefits available to Department of Energy employees covered by the Energy Workers Occupational Sickness Compensation Program Act.

The delay for these improvements in RECA is decades. NCI The study that revealed I-131 exposures in states such as Idaho and Montana was released 23 years ago after it was actively suppressed by the government. 5 years. The National Academies of Science report proposing that Guam be included in RECA was published 15 years ago. Communities like Trinity Test Downwinders and Post-71 Uranium Workers have been struggling to get involved in RECA for nearly 15 years. Many during these years suffered and He died while waiting for compensation. Survivors often feel that the government is just waiting for them to die so they don’t have to take responsibility for any damage they have caused.

Supporting frontline communities

Peaceful Demonstration with the Trinity Downwinders at the Trinity Site Open House in New Mexico. Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

One day recognition is important – these communities deserve recognition for the unimaginable sacrifice they unknowingly made to their country. But not enough. The best and most important way to honor these victims of the US nuclear weapons program is to pay them compensation and provide health care for their illnesses and deaths. You can help: tell your members Congress that they It should expand and expand RECA and, by doing so, take a step towards providing equitable care and compensation to all communities harmed by nuclear weapons activities.

 

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