Senatorâ??s bill could be expanded to build support
Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania), are discussing the need to expand upon a plan to compensate Idahoans and others exposed to radiation from atomic tests during the middle of the last century. Crapo has introduced legislation to include Idahoans for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) but agrees recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to reform RECA must also be included in Congressional action on the Idaho bill. Crapo maintains his bill, S. 998, could be expanded to address both compensation issues and RECA reform. The senatorsâ?? talks are aimed at finding a way to compensate Idahoans and others affected by radiation exposure, as suggested by the NAS study. To that end, Crapo and Specter agreed to work together to address the findings of the NAS report, which recommended including all individuals who may have been exposed to fallout under current compensation programs, regardless of geography. Both Senators also agreed to involve White House officials in the discussions.â??There are areas in my native Idaho that have demonstrably higher incidences of thyroid dosage of radiation than any other county currently covered by RECA. It seems unconscionable to me that people living in these areas are not currently eligible for compensation,â?? Crapo said. â??Those affected are not asking for special treatment, they are simply asking for fairness. As R. Julian Preston, Director of the Environmental Protection Agencyâ??s Environmental Carcinogenesis Division stated, â??To be equitable, any compensation program needs to be based on scientific criteria and similar cases must be treated alike. The current geographic limitations are not based on the latest science.â??Specter said, â??I appreciate the Senatorâ??s interest in this issue and recognize that he has legislation pending in Congress to address the needs of affected Idahoans. I say to my friend and colleague that I will work with him to identify necessary improvements and to respond to findings contained in the NAS report. I also urge the Administration to work diligently to help those still in need.â?? FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. If you encounter any difficulties with the system, please contact Susan Wheeler at the above number. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://src.senate.gov/radio.