News Article


The Snake River Alliance called on the National Academy of Sciences today to hold a public meeting in Idaho to discuss expanding the scope of legislation intended to compensate individuals who became ill due to exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons testing fallout at the Nevada Test Site. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), passed in 1990, provides for financial compensation to people who lived “downwind” from above ground nuclear tests in the Nevada desert or to miners who worked underground in uranium mines.
Currently, the federal government compensates only those downwinders who lived in one of 21 rural counties in Nevada, Arizona, and southern Utah during specified time periods and who suffered from multiple types of cancer. The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council is now looking at whether Congress should be expanded to include additional geographic areas, other types of cancers, and other “classes of individuals.” A public meeting to address these questions has been scheduled for Thursday, July 29, in Salt Lake City. Testimony from downwinders was to be taken, but the list of those wishing to testify has grown so large that not further scheduled testimony will be taken.
According to the National Cancer Institute four of the five counties with the highest I-131 exposure from nuclear weapons testing fallout are in southern Idaho. NCI’s data indicate certain Idaho counties received doses as high as 15 Rads.
“The US response to the health damage our own nuclear weapons tests have caused our own people, though less than robust, has been an important effort to redress some of the harm,” said Jeremy Maxand, executive director of the Snake River Alliance. “Some of that harm has occurred in Idaho, and the people of this state deserve to participate in your deliberations.”
From 1945 to 1992 the US tested 1,030 nuclear weapons, 911 of which were at the Nevada Test Site. Two hundred and fifteen of the 1,030 US nuclear tests were atmospheric; 815 were below ground.
As a result of this testing, communities across the country were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research estimates that, “80,000 people who lived in or were born in the United States between 1951 and 2000 will contract cancer as a result of the fallout caused by atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.”