June 25, 2010

Bipartisan Group Of Senators Calls For Hearing On RECA Amendments Act of 2010

Bill Would Expand Relief for Americans Sickened by Radiation Exposure

Washington, D.C. - A bipartisan group of senators, including Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, today sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee requesting a hearing on the recently introduced Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments of 2010, which would provide expanded restitution for Americans sickened from working in uranium mines or living near atomic weapons tests.

The letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was sent by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). The legislation, introduced by the senators in April, was referred to the Judiciary Committee for consideration.

"This bill … would address key deficiencies in RECA, and extend compensation to a number of currently unqualified but suffering uranium workers and downwinders," the group wrote. "Considering the importance of this legislation for many of our constituents, we respectfully request that you move quickly to hold a hearing on this legislation."

Among other things, the RECA Amendments of 2010 would build upon previous RECA legislation by further widening qualifications for compensation for radiation exposure; qualifying post 1971 uranium workers for compensation; equalizing compensation for all claimants to $150,000; expanding the downwind exposure area to include seven states; and funding an epidemiological study of the health impacts on families of uranium workers and residents of uranium development communities.

Full text of the letter to the Judiciary Committee:

June 25, 2010


The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
152 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510



Dear Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Sessions:

We recently introduced legislation to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that was referred to your committee. This bill, S. 3224, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2010, would address key deficiencies in RECA, and extend compensation to a number of currently unqualified but suffering uranium workers and downwinders. Considering the importance of this legislation for many of our constituents, we respectfully request that you move quickly to hold a hearing on this legislation.

As the United States government built up its Cold War nuclear arsenal during the mid-20th century, many Americans paid the price with their health. Some were sickened through exposure to aboveground atomic weapons tests. Others were exposed to heavy doses of radiation from working in the uranium mining industry. To compensate these individuals for their unwitting exposure to dangerous levels of radiation, Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act in 1990. In the ensuing years, shortcomings in the original law have become apparent. S. 3224 seeks to address many of these shortcomings.

S. 3224 would expand the geographic qualification for compensation for those made sick from exposure to radiation from aboveground atomic weapons test at the Nevada Test Site. The bill would also extend compensation for individuals who were exposed to the original atomic bomb testing at the Trinity site, and to those in Guam who were exposed to atomic weapons tests in the Pacific. The bill would further extend compensation to uranium workers who worked in mines and mills after 1971, and make other smaller improvements to RECA.

We thank you for your leadership on the Judiciary Committee, and we urge you to move forward with a hearing on S. 3224, a bill that will greatly impact many of our constituents. Thank you for your consideration of our request and we look forward to working with you on this issue and the many other important issues facing our nation.

Sincerely,
Tom Udall
United States Senator

Jeff Bingaman
United States Senator

Mike Crapo
United States Senator

Mark Udall
United States Senator

James Risch
United States Senator

Michael Bennet
United States Senator