Ground-breaking legislation was recently introduced in the Senate by Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. The bill, titled the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2010, would expand coverage for cancer victims and their survivors who were exposed to radiation during above ground nuclear testing from 1946 to 1962.
For those not familiar with the program, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program provides payments to persons exposed to radiation by above-ground nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, and those who worked with uranium ore. There are five types of claims: Downwinders (those who lived around the test sites), Onsite Participants (those who participated in the testing), and Uranium Workers (millers, miners and ore transporters).
The most exciting change to the program would be the inclusion of all of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana and Colorado. Currently, only 21 counties in Arizona, Nevada and Utah are covered, including portions of counties (like Mohave County in Arizona and Clark County in Nevada). Major areas that have been impacted by the testing, such as Las Vegas, would now be covered under the program.
The RECA Amendments of 2010 would further widen qualifications for compensation for radiation exposure; would expand the list of compensable diseases, would qualify post-1971 uranium workers for compensation and equalize compensation for all claimants to $150,000. This would mean that Downwinder victims and their survivors would receive triple the amount they are currently receiving ($50,000), and Onsite Participants would receive double what they are currently receiving. The changes would also include funding for an epidemiological study of the health impacts on families of uranium workers and residents of uranium development communities.
Presence requirements would change dramatically. A claimant would be required to show eligibility during one of the following periods: (a) one month during June 30, 1945 to July 31, 1945; (b) one year between June 30, 1946 to August 19, 1958, or (c) the period between April 25, 1962 to November 2, 1962. Medical benefits would be given to Downwinders. Currently only uranium workers applying for compensation under the EEOICPA can receive medical benefits. Uranium workers would be eligible to receive compensation if they were employed anytime prior to December 31, 1990. Affidavits could be used to establish residence for Downwinders and Onsite Participants.
These would be dramatic changes to the program and would provide more compensation to tens of thousands of people who deserve it. Please check my blog at www://downwindersprogram.blogspot.com or contact me at (928) 776-2457.