Compensation of Navajo Uranium Miners
(last updated 25 Mar 2021)
At Congress hearing, Navajo president calls for extension of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) beyond 2022
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez testified before the House Judiciary Committee during a discussion of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
About three decades ago, Congress tried to address a growing concern about the health problems caused by uranium exposure during the U.S. nuclear weapons buildup.
The act covered uranium miners and people who lived close to test sites, known as downwinders.
But Nez and others testified that the act has fallen short of its goals, and should be extended beyond 2022, when it is set to expire. He said there are hundreds of abandoned mines in the Navajo Nation.
(Fronteras Mar. 24, 2021)
> View: Examining the Need to Expand Eligibility Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act , House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing, March 24, 2021
DOJ reminds of 2022 deadline for filing of claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA)
The Department of Justice ("the Department") is publishing this document to inform the public of the Department's procedures for filing claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act ("RECA") at the statutory filing deadline. RECA requires that claims shall be barred unless filed within 22 years after the date of enactment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000. The Department is publishing this document to articulate its policy that RECA claims that bear a date of July 11, 2022 on the postmark or stamp by another commercial carrier shall be deemed timely filed upon receipt by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program. The Department will return untimely claims and will not accept electronic submissions.
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 237 (Wednesday, December 9, 2020) p. 79118-79120 (download full text )
Bill again re-introduced in U.S. Congress to amend Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich reintroduced the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019. The legislation would expand coverage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to cover victims in New Mexico including the Tularosa Downwinders and Post-1971 Uranium Workers, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Guam.
The bill would expand eligibility for victims denied government assistance for years of health problems related to radiation exposure from atomic bomb tests in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and uranium mining to support America's Cold War efforts. New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Guam would be added to existing areas where victims can apply for compensation under the federal RECA program. At present, only residents of certain counties in Utah, Nevada and Arizona are eligible to apply for benefits.
> View: S.947 - A bill to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to improve compensation for workers involved in uranium mining, and for other purposes . 116th Congress (2019-2020)
Congress holds hearing on proposed expansion of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to cover post-1971 uranium mine workers
A grass-roots effort years in the making cleared an important hurdle Wednesday (June 27) when advocates for New Mexicans sickened by uranium mining and nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War finally received a formal hearing in Congress.
Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez and Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, were among those who told the Senate Judiciary Committee stories of hardship, illness and death suffered by New Mexicans and other residents of the western U.S. from radiation during the Cold War and beyond. Similar hearings had been postponed at least twice.
The Senate is now considering a bill to expand eligibility for payouts under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act of 1990. The expansion legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., would compensate victims and their families living near the Trinity test site in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin and post-1971 uranium mine workers in Northwestern New Mexico.
(Albuquerque Journal June 27, 2018)
> Access Judiciary Committee Hearing page: Examining the Eligibility Requirements for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program to Ensure all Downwinders Receive Coverage , June 27, 2018
> Access Senate Bill: S.197 - Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2017 , Jan. 24, 2017
Rally in Santa Fe demanding expansion of coverage by Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to post-1971 employees (New Mexico)
A rally held this week in the state Capitol Rotunda [in Santa Fe] has brought new attention to the needs of New Mexico residents who have been exposed to health hazards from uranium mining and nuclear testing in past decades.
New Mexico lawmakers are being asked to support amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to provide benefits to people whose exposure occurred after 1971.
The federal government stopped being the sole extractor of radioactive materials in 1971, allowing businesses to enter the industry.
Federal studies in the 1970s determined that nuclear sites that had been under government contract no longer posed health threats. However, new research by Dr. Akshay Sood at the University of New Mexico showed health conditions from radiation exposure "are not significantly different," before and after 1971.
(Public News Service Mar. 3, 2017)
Legislature supports uranium measures:
The [New Mexico] Legislature is finally on board with supporting post-1971 uranium workers and downwinders in the home state of the atomic bomb as well as expanding amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to make them eligible to receive benefits.
A memorial designating Uranium Workers Day, co-sponsored by Reps. Doreen Wonda Johnson, D-Churchrock, and Eliseo Lee Alcon, D-Milan, passed the House Monday (Feb. 27) on a unanimous vote. A companion memorial requesting the state's congressional delegation to continue to support amendments to expand federal compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for individuals exposed to radiation, sponsored by Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup, also cleared the Senate unanimously.
(Gallup Independent Feb. 28, 2017)
Senate Memorial 85 ·
House Memorial 40
Bill re-introduced in U.S. Congress to amend Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
A bipartisan coalition of western U.S. Senators has introduced two measures to benefit Americans exposed to airborne radiation during nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) introduced legislation to allow victims in a number of western states to file claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The senators also introduced a Senate resolution marking January 27, 2017, as a national day of remembrance for those affected downwind from the above-ground nuclear weapons testing.
(Press Release of Senator Crapo Jan. 24, 2017)
> View S.197
Awards under Radiation Exposure Compensation Act surpass $2 billion
The U.S. Justice Department announced on March 2, 2015, that it has awarded more than $2 billion in compassionate compensation to eligible claimants under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
Bill introduced in U.S. Congress to amend Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led a bipartisan group of senators this week in renewing their efforts to expand restitution for victims of radiation exposure related to U.S. nuclear arms testing in the 1950s and 1960s. As a part of that effort, the senators introduced the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which seeks to expand RECA eligibility to affected individuals in New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Utah.
Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined Udall and Heinrich to introduce the bill.
(Tom Udall Feb. 5, 2015)
> View S.331
Bill introduced in U.S. Congress to amend Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Friday, April 19, led a bipartisan group of senators in renewing their efforts to expand restitution for Americans sickened from working in uranium mines or living downwind of atomic weapons tests.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-3) concurrently introduced companion legislation in the House.
Among other things, the RECA Amendments of 2013 would build upon previous RECA legislation by qualifying post-1971 uranium workers for compensation; equalizing compensation for all claimants to $150,000; expanding the downwind exposure area to include seven states downwind of the Nevada and Trinity Test Sites; and funding an epidemiological study of the health effects on families of uranium workers and residents of uranium development communities.
(Cibola Beacon Apr. 23, 2013)
> View: S.773 · H.R. 1645
Bill introduced in U.S. Congress to expand coverage by Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
On April 12, 2011, U.S. Senator Tom Udall led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments of 2011 (S. 791 ), which would provide expanded restitution for Americans sickened from working in uranium mines or living downwind of atomic weapons tests.
Companion legislation was concurrently introduced in the House (H.R. 1490 ) by Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-3).
Specifically, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2011 would:
- Extend compensation to employees of mines and mills employed after Dec. 31, 1971. These are individuals who began working in uranium mines and mills after the U.S. stopped purchasing uranium, but failed to implement and enforce adequate uranium mining safety standards. Many of these workers have the same illnesses as pre-1971 workers who currently qualify for RECA compensation.
- Add core drillers to the list of compensable employees, which currently only includes miners, millers and ore transporters.
- Add renal cancer, or any other chronic renal disease, to the list of compensable diseases for employees of mines and mills. Currently, millers and transporters are covered for kidney disease, but miners are not.
- Allow claimants to combine work histories to meet the requirement of the legislation. For example, individuals who worked half a year in a mill and half a year in a mine would be eligible for compensation. Currently, the Department of Justice makes some exceptions for this, but the policy is not codified in law.
- Make all claimants available for an equal amount of compensation, specifically $150,000, regardless of whether they are millers, miners, ore transporters, onsite employees, or downwinders.
- among others
Bill introduced in U.S. Senate to expand coverage by Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators from western states wants to expand federal compensation for people who became ill from working in uranium mines, living near debris left from mining or living near atomic tests from the 1940s to the 1960s.
The measure, introduced Monday (April 19), would broaden who's eligible for compensation, expand the downwind exposure area to include seven states and fund a study of health impacts on families of uranium workers and people living near uranium development.
Senate staffers could not say how many people might potentially be covered by the proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, RECA.
The bill also would add all of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah in areas defined as downwind from atomic tests.
(AP Apr. 20, 2010)
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2010: S.3224 · H.R.5119
Navajo Committee seeks amendment to Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
A grassroots effort to help uranium mine workers' children affected by diseases and birth defects is picking up steam on the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers Committee will meet for the second time in a month to update community members and hear feedback from residents who suffer from cancer, kidney disease, birth defects and other illnesses resulting from prolonged radon exposure from uranium mines.
The health problems date back to work in the 1950s and '60s, said Phil Harrison, Council Delegate for Red Valley/Cove Chapter of the Navajo Nation. During that time, uranium mine workers were exposed to high levels of radon, which has caused inter-generational bouts of illnesses in communities across the Navajo Nation.
"A lot of people don't want to talk about this in the public," Harrison said.
By holding public meetings, organizers hope to garner enough support to lobby government officials in Washington, D.C., to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
RECA, which was passed by Congress in 1990, authorized funding for people who contracted cancer or other specific diseases from radon exposure from working in the region's uranium mines. It was amended in 2000, and some would like to see it amended further.
With virtually no records from 50 to 60 years ago, many people are not able to receive worker's compensation, medical care or compensation for deaths, illnesses or the on-going birth defects, Harrison said.
(Farmington Daily Times April 22, 2009)
HRSA outreach seeks to raise cancer awareness among people who lived near nuclear sites or mined uranium
On May 8, 2008, Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) launched a nationwide outreach effort to raise awareness about the need for cancer screening among people who lived near nuclear weapons testing facilities in the mid-20th century. The effort also targets former test site employees and workers in the uranium mining industry.
> Radiation Exposure Education & Screening Program (RESEP)
GAO gives update on Radiation Exposure Compensation program status
Uranium worker data from April 1992 through June 30, 2007:
|Category||Claims approved||Claims denied||Claims pending||Total payments|
|Uranium Miner||4,560||2,661||208||$455 million|
|Uranium Miller||1,000||239||33||$100 million|
|Uranium Ore Transporter||217||70||7||$22 million|
> Download GAO Report Radiation Exposure Compensation Act: Program Status, September 7, 2007 (PDF)
"Post-71" uranium miners accuse federal government of withholding study recommending compensation
On Oct. 26, 2005, "Post-71" uranium miners charged that the federal government and the former Atomic Energy Commission withheld a study which recommended they be compensated under the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act based on supporting health studies and exposure data.
Antonio Sena and Margarito Martinez, former Kerr-McGee mine workers who for years have been advocating on behalf of uranium miners who worked after 1971, referred to as Post-71 miners, appeared to catch representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Justice off guard as they presented an update on the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act to a packed house at Best Western in Grants.
Sena and Martinez gave program facilitators a copy of the "Journal of Health & Social Policy" report (Vol. 19, 2004, No. 4, p. 45-59) by two Utah State University professors and a message to take back to Washington, D.C.
In the article entitled, "Unfinished Business: Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) for Post-1971 U.S. Uranium Underground Miners," professors Gary E. Madsen, Ph.D, and Susan E. Dawson, Ph.D, examined the regulatory history and scientific evidence used for passage of RECA for miners prior to 1972.
Also included was evidence they said supported inclusion of Post-71 workers under the federal RECA compensation program.
(Gallup Independent Oct. 27, 2005)
According to the "Unfinished Business" report, the 1990 RECA legislation established a cutoff of 1971 based on government liability related to the uranium procurement program.
The report's authors said there was a perception among many in government and the uranium industry that the 4 Working Level Months standard passed in 1971 would provide adequate protection for miners; however, they said, this was not supported by the scientific community.
They also issued a word of caution in interpreting working level findings "because of validity and reliability issues."
Findings in a 1980 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report, based on scientific study, showed that the Mine Safety Health Administration standard of 4 WLM "does not provide an adequate degree of protection for underground miners exposed to radiation when it is evaluated over their exposure lifetime."
The authors said reliability issues also were clearly established in the NIOSH report. Based on the Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration (MESA) 1977 Annual Report to Congress, "there continued to be an apparent discrepancy between federal inspection results and company records."
"When federal samples taken from routine inspections were compared with company records, the following yearly exposures were found," they said.
Company records indicated average exposure-WLM in 1975 was 1.07. MESA sampling results showed the average was 5.68. In 1976, company records indicated 0.99 average exposure; MESA showed 4.64. In 1977, the company average was 0.91 as compared to MESA's 4.08.
GAO: Radiation Exposure Compensation payments improving
An investigation by the General Accounting Office into the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act - the program to compensate downwinders and uranium workers sickened by above-ground nuclear testing - found that the Department of Justice is doing a much better job administering the program than it was when a similar study was done in 2003.
According to the report, not only is the program now funded "for life," only 8 percent of 22,206 claims filed since 1992 remain unresolved - compared to 18 percent of the 14,987 claims that had been filed as of the 2003 report. The Department of Justice also is processing the claims faster.
The GAO found that improvements could be attributed to changes in the law that improved efficiencies and greater financial stability for the program.
(Deseret News Oct. 2, 2005)
> Download GAO report: Radiation Exposure Compensation Act: Program Status GAO-05-1002R, September 28, 2005 (PDF)
NAS recommends to examine whether Cold War era residents of uranium mills should become eligible for radiation exposure compensation
A National Academy of Science Committee has published a study investigating the scientific background for the criteria to be used to determine eligibility of persons who contracted cancer for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). So far, the program had been applicable to uranium workers and downwinders of nuclear weapon tests only.
In the study, the committee recommends among others, that "the appropriate agency" should review whether residents who lived in dwellings constructed from mill and mine tailings and/or lived near uranium mill tailings piles and uranium mills used to produce uranium for the US nuclear weapons program may have received radiation doses that meet or exceed the RECA compensation criteria. "If so, the agency should take the necessary steps to have these populations included in RECA."
Assessment of the Scientific Information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program, Committee to Assess the Scientific Information for the
Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program, National Research Council, ISBN: 0-309-09610-3, 500 pages, 2005
> View NAS study online
> Download NAS study summary (505k PDF)
> Download NAS Report Brief (300k PDF)
DOJ issues final rule implementing Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments
The Department of Justice revises its existing regulations (28 CFR Part 79) implementing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, to reflect changes to RECA contained in two legislative enactments: the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000, enacted on July 10, 2000; and the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, enacted on November 2, 2002.
Federal Register: March 23, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 56) p. 13627-13676
(download full text )
GAO: funding once more may be inadequate for radiation exposure compensation program
A report released by the General Accounting Office on April 15, 2003, finds that the RECA program may run short of funding during the years 2003 through 2007, due in part to the amendments made to the act in 2000.
Radiation Exposure Compensation: Funding to Pay Claims May Be Inadequate to Meet Projected Needs. U.S. General Accounting Office, GAO-03-481, April 14, 2003.
> Download: Full text (485k PDF) · Highlights (81k PDF)
Radiation exposure compensation program amended
On November 2, 2002, President Bush signed the Justice Department's FY2002 Authorization bill, which contains several provisions amending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The changes include revisions to the downwinder and onsite participant categories, as well as uranium workers.
> View DOJ release Nov. 5, 2002
Bill H.R. 2215 became Public Law 107-273 (PDF - coming soon)
DOJ releases rules implementing RECA act amendments
The Department of Justice revises its
existing regulations to implement the Radiation Exposure Compensation
Act (RECA), to reflect amendments to the Act made
in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000, enacted on July 10, 2000.
Department of Justice, 28 CFR Part 79, Claims Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000; Final Rule and Proposed Rule
Federal Register (Vol. 67, No. 67) Aug. 7, 2002, p. 51421-51439:
final regulations: expand the list of radiogenic and chronic diseases
that are compensable for ``downwinder'' and ``onsite participant''
claimants; eliminate smoking distinctions for all claimants; amend the
list of geographical areas to provide additional radiation-affected
areas for ``downwinder'' claimants; modify the burden of proof for
purposes of claims processing; allow claimants who have previously been
denied compensation to file up to three times; and make other technical
revisions consistent with the amended Act.
Department of Justice, 28 CFR Part 79, Claims Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000; Expansion of Coverage to Uranium Millers and Ore Transporters; Expansion of Coverage for Uranium Miners; Representation and Fees (Proposed rule).
Federal Register (Vol. 67, No. 67) Aug. 7, 2002, p. 51440-51457:
This proposed rule describes the expanded population of eligible
uranium mine workers created by lowering the radiation exposure
threshold for miners; identifies the new uranium mining states with
respect to which miners may be eligible for compensation; includes
provision for compensation to ``aboveground'' miners; sets forth
employment eligibility criteria for the new claimant categories;
describes the documentation that would be required to establish proof
of employment in a uranium mine or mill or as an ore transporter;
describes the medical documentation necessary to establish the
existence of renal cancer and chronic renal disease; and revises the
provision concerning representation of claimants before the Department
of Justice with respect to claims brought under the Act."
The comment period on the proposed rule was reopened (See Federal Register (Vol. 67, No. 229) Nov. 27, 2002, p. 70892: download full text ):
Comments must be received on or before January 27, 2003.
Availability of funds for RECA education programs
Federal Register: April 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 83), Page 21256-21258 (download full notice ):
"Fiscal Year 2002 Competitive Application Cycle for the Radiation
Exposure Screening and Education Program 93.257
Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations.
AGENCY: Health Resources and Services Administration, HHS.
ACTION: Notice of availability of funds.
SUMMARY: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
announces the availability of approximately $3.0 million to eligible
entities for the purpose of carrying out programs to develop education
programs and disseminate information on radiogenic diseases and the
importance of early detection; screen eligible individuals for cancer
and other radiogenic diseases; provide appropriate referrals for
medical treatment; and facilitate documentation of Radiation Exposure
Compensation Program claims."
President signs bill to ensure compensation payments for 10 years
On December 13, 2001, Congress enacted legislation that would ensure compensation payments under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for the next 10 years. The bill was signed by the President on December 28, 2001. Previous legislation was depending on the necessary appropriations being provided every year.
> View S.1438: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002
SEC. 1066. RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT MANDATORY APPROPRIATIONS.
Section 3(e) of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended to read as follows:
(1) IN GENERAL- Subject to the limits in paragraph (2), there are appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the fiscal year 2002, and each fiscal year thereafter through 2011, such sums as may be necessary to the Fund for the purpose of making payments to eligible beneficiaries under this Act.
(2) LIMITATION- Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) may not exceed--
(A) in fiscal year 2002, $172,000,000;
(B) in fiscal year 2003, $143,000,000;
(C) in fiscal year 2004, $107,000,000;
(D) in fiscal year 2005, $65,000,000;
(E) in fiscal year 2006, $47,000,000;
(F) in fiscal year 2007, $29,000,000;
(G) in fiscal year 2008, $29,000,000;
(H) in fiscal year 2009, $23,000,000;
(I) in fiscal year 2010, $23,000,000; and
(J) in fiscal year 2011, $17,000,000.'.
GAO Review of Radiation Exposure Compensation Program
A review by the U.S. General Accounting Office, a research arm of Congress, says that the Justice Department is administering the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program (RECP) within the law and limits imposed by Congress. However, it does say Justice could do a better job in reaching out to likely victims to let them know they may qualify for compensation. (Deseret News Sep 25, 2001)
United States General Accounting Office:
Report to Congressional Committees, RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION -
Analysis of Justice's Program Administration, GAO-01-1043, September 17, 2001
> Download (200k PDF)
Bush administration seeks to delay miner compensation
The Bush administration wants to remove some aboveground mine workers from the RECA compensation program for workers who contracted illnesses after working in Cold War-era nuclear weapons programs. The administration wants to delay the payments until the completion of three ongoing studies.
Aboveground uranium miners, ore-haulers and millers were added to the program last year and could begin applying for $100,000 payments in January 2001. At least 141 ore-haulers and millers applied for compensation, but none have been paid. (Washington Post Aug. 28, 2001)
On July 24,2001, President Bush signed H.R.2216 (Making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2001, and for other
purposes) which became Public Law No: 107-20.
"PAYMENT TO RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION TRUST FUND
For an additional amount for 'Payment to Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund' for claims covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, $84,000,000, to remain available until expended."
The bill would increase benefits for victims from nuclear weapons' tests fallout to $100,000.
The bill also would protect the compensation from Congress' annual budget battles by declaring it an entitlement.
- "To make technical amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note), provide compensation to certain claimants under such Act, and for other purposes."
The program, which awards $150,000 compassionate payments to miners suffering from radiation-related diseases, ran out of money in May 2000. The U.S. Department of Justice began sending out IOUs to successful claimants, 275 IOUs so far.
Two bills were introduced in Congress that would help uranium miners and workers receive their compensation. The first bill would allocate $84 million in emergency supplemental appropriations to pay off the IOUs. The second bill would exempt the radiation exposure funding from the annual budget and appropriations process so that future payments would be automatic. The bills were introduced in the Senate on March 1, 2001 and in the House on March 13, 2001.
- "To ensure the timely payment of benefits to eligible persons under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note)" (H.R.996 , S.449 )
- "Paul Hicks Memorial Act" (H.R.995 / S.448 )
On October 30, 2000, President Clinton signed a bill raising the compensation for uranium miners from $100,000 to $150,000.
> The legislation is part of the defense authorization bill H.R. 4205 and became Public Law No: 106-398
> See also: DOE workers' compensation
On August 5, 1999, Mr. Hatch introduced the bill S.1515 in the U.S. Senate: "To amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, and for other purposes."
> See also Salt Lake Tribune, August 7, 1999
On November 2, 1999, the bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration. (Salt Lake Tribune Nov. 3, 1999 )
On November 19, 1999, the bill passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent, and it was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. (Orrin Hatch press release Nov. 19, 1999 )
On June 27, 2000, the bill passed the House.
On July 10, 2000, the bill was signed by the President and became Public Law No: 106-245.
Major provisions of the bill include:
- Extending eligibility to uranium workers from South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Oregon and Texas. The current law covers Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Washington state.
- Adding leukemia and cancers of the lung, thyroid, brain, kidney, esophagus and stomach to the list of cancers that make miners eligible for compensation. Kidney disease and two lung ailments also would be added to the list.
- Eliminating provisions that give less money to miners who smoked.
- Cutting the average time a person had to work in uranium mines from just under 20 years to less than four.
- Requiring the Justice Department to take American Indian law and custom into account when processing applications. Navajo officials have complained that widows of dead miners have been denied compensation because they were married in traditional Indian ceremonies and do not have marriage certificates.
- Spending up to $20 million a year for community health centers and state health departments to screen for claims.
Instead Of $100,000, Radiation Victims Get IOUs
Former uranium miners who qualify for federal payments to compensate for radiation-related illnesses instead are getting IOUs (= I owe you) from the government. Several former miners recently received letters saying they qualified for $100,000 payments each, but the money is not available now. (Albuquerque Journal, Aug. 15, 2000)
The Justice Department has 242 approved but unfunded claims from former miners or their families. They have waited for months, some since May, for the government to fulfill promised, compassionate $100,000 payments - payments that Congress has since boosted to $150,000. (The Daily Sentinel, December 10, 2000)
"Men who worked decades ago crushing and processing
uranium ore in the mills that dotted the Colorado Plateau finally are
being tested to determine if they suffer the same job-related health
effects as uranium miners.
The former uranium mill workers are submitting to detailed interviews
and medical tests as part of the first-ever study of a large number of
mill workers to see if their health was damaged by their above-ground
handling of uranium ore.
The study being done by researchers from the University of New Mexico
at Albuquerque with congressional funding is expected to yield results
that could affect a newly introduced bill that would expand federal
compensation to uranium millers and transporters with radiation-related
diseases. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act currently covers only
uranium miners and those exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear
tests." (Denver Post, Aug. 31, 1999)
On April 21, 1999, Mr Skeen introduced the bill H.R.1516 in the U.S. House of Representatives:
"Radiation Workers Justice Act of 1999 - A bill to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide for payment of compensation to individuals exposed to radiation as the result of working in uranium mines and mills which provided uranium for the use and benefit of the United States Government, and for other purposes."
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Divison: 28 CFR Part 79 - Radiation Exposure Compensation Act: Evidentiary Requirements; Definitions; and Number of Times Claims May Be Filed - Final rule. In: Federal Register, March 22, 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 54), p. 13686-13700 (download full text ):
"SUMMARY: The Department of Justice (``the Department'') amends its
existing regulations implementing the Radiation Exposure Compensation
Act to: allow claimants to submit affidavits or declarations in support
of a claim to establish smoking and alcohol consumption histories where
no other records exist; allow the use of pathology reports of tissue
biopsies as additional means by which claimants can present evidence of
a compensable non-malignant respiratory disease; amend the definitions
of ``smoker'' and ``non-smoker''; include in situ lung cancers under
the definition of primary cancers of the lung; and allow claimants who
have filed claims prior to the implementation of these regulations and
have been denied compensation to file another three times.
DATES: Effective date: April 21, 1999. [...]"
On March 9, 1999, Mr Udall introduced the bill H.R.1045 in the U.S. House of Representatives: "Radiation Exposure Compensation Improvement Act of 1999 -
A bill to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide for partial restitution to individuals who worked in uranium mines, mills, or transport which provided uranium for the use and benefit of the United States Government, and for other purposes."
On March 2, 1999, Mrs. Mink introduced the bill H.R.930 in the U.S. House of Representatives: "To amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to remove the requirement that exposure resulting in stomach cancer occur before age 30, and for other purposes".
On February 4, 1999, Mr. Bingaman introduced the bill S.367 in the U.S. Senate:
"To amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide for partial restitution to individuals who worked in uranium mines, mills, or transport which provided uranium for the use and benefit of the United States Government, and for other purposes."
On March 24, 1998, Mr. Redmond introduced the bill H.R.3539 in the U.S. House of Representatives:
"To amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide for payment of compensation to individuals exposed to radiation as the result of working in uranium mines and mills which provided uranium for the use and benefit of the United States Government, and for other purposes."
> View related Grand Junction Daily Sentinel article (July 12, 1998)
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Divison: 28 CFR Part 79 -
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act: Evidentiary Requirements;
Definitions and Number of Claims Filed - Proposed Rule. In:
Federal Register, May 23, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 100) p. 28393-
(download full text )
SUMMARY: The Department of Justice (``the
Department'') proposes to amend its existing regulations
implementing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (``RECA''
or ``Act''). The proposed rule would: Allow claimants to submit
affidavits or declarations in support of a claim under certain
circumstances; allow the use of high resolution computed
tomography reports and pathology reports of tissue biopsies as
additional means by which claimants can present evidence of a
compensable non-malignant respiratory disease; amend the
definitions of ``smoker'' and ``non-smoker;'' include in situ
lung cancers under the definition of primary cancers of the
lung; and allow claimants who have filed claims prior to the
implementation of these proposed regulations and have been
denied compensation to file another three times.
U.S. Congress: Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, Public Law 101-426-Oct.15, 1990 (search for "EXPOSURE" within the file):
U.S. DOJ: 28 CFR Part 79 - Claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
Available for download via GPO Access or Cornell Law School
What is the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act? (Dawes and Harriss, P.C.)
Final Report of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Committee , July 1996
Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments:
Testimonies before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims , Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing on H.R. 3539 , the "Radiation Workers Justice Act of 1998" -- June 25, 1998:
- Statement by Wm. Paul Robinson , Southwest Research and Information Center, Albuquerque, NM: More Than Radon In The Uranium Dust / An Overview of the Basis for Uranium Miners and Millers - Exposed to Non-Radioactive Hazards and Radioactive Hazards other than Radon Decay Products - to be Included in US Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Program
- Statement by Lawrence J. Fine , National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH )
Study Alternatives For Evaluating Health Effects Of Uranium Milling , by Lynne E. Pinkerton and Thomas F. Bloom, National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), January 17, 1997
Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims (Kerry Richardson)
Report on the 4th Indigenous Uranium Forum (Kerry Richardson)
Navajo Uranium Miners fight for Compensation (Timothy Benally)
Testimony by Philipp Harrison at the 1992 World Uranium Hearing
Uranium Radiation in the Diné Bikeyah (Diné CARE - Citizens Against Ruining our Environment):
Cancer Factories - America's Tragic Quest for Uranium Self-Sufficiency , by Howard Ball, Contributions in Medical Studies No.37, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1993, 189 p., ISBN 0-313-27566-1
If you poison us : uranium and Native Americans , by Peter H. Eichstaedt, Red Crane Books, Santa Fe, NM 1994, 263 p., ISBN 0-878610-40-6
"Memories Come to Us in the Rain and the Wind": Oral Histories and Photographs of Navajo Uranium Miners and Their Families. The Navajo Uranium Miner Oral History and Photography Project (Ed.); Boston 1997, 62 p.
To purchase the book and/or for more information contact Doug Brugge at email@example.com
U.S. Dept. of Justice RECA page
Photos of Navajo uranium miners by Sean Cayton "Behind the lines"
Diné CARE (Citizens Against Ruining our Environment)