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Crapo Applauds Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Extension

Legislation extending RECA program for two years signed into law

Washington, D.C. Legislation championed by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program for two years has been signed into law. The extension allows individuals more time to apply for the compensation they deserve. 

Crapo, a longtime Senate lead on RECA expansion efforts and original co-sponsor of this legislation, applauded the extension and reiterated the need for additional efforts to expand the program to include coverage for all of those who lived downwind of above-ground atomic weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s.   

“Extending the RECA program for two years is critical to providing compensation downwinders rightfully deserve,” said Crapo.  “Many Idahoans have suffered the health consequences of exposure to fallout from nuclear weapons testing, and I will continue to work for the passage of important legislation that ensures their reparation.”

Crapo will continue pushing for passage of his bipartisan legislation, S. 2798, which would extend and expand eligibility under the RECA program.  S. 2798 would expand the coverage area to allow more potential victims, known as “downwinders,” to file for compensation under RECA.  While the original RECA program only covered individuals who lived in parts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona, this legislation would expand the geographic downwinder eligibility to include then-residents of Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Guam.

In March 2022, Crapo and Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) led a bipartisan letter urging Congressional Leadership to extend RECA.  The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the RECA extension legislation in May 2022. 

Crapo chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the RECA program in June 2018.  Tona Henderson, of Emmett, Idaho, and head of the Idaho Downwinders organization, provided testimony in the hearing and paid tribute to those in her community who have passed away due to radiation-related illnesses.  Her birthplace of Gem County, Idaho, received the third-highest amount of fallout in the nation according to a 1997 National Cancer Institute study.

“A huge thank you to Senators Crapo and Lujan for working so hard on behalf of downwinders!” Henderson said.  “This is great news that the current RECA legislation will not expire.  Now, we still have the task of getting our RECA expansion Bill passed.  This should be a bipartisan effort to compensate downwinders and uranium workers for the tragedy that nuclear testing caused.”

Without reauthorization, the RECA program was scheduled to sunset in July.