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3/14/2010 6:00:00 AM
Brewer hears from county Downwinders
JC AMBERLYN/MinerGov. Jan Brewer (center) at Tuesday’s meeting with Mohave County Downwinders in the County Administration Building.Click here to purchase this photo
Gov. Jan Brewer (center) at Tuesday’s meeting with Mohave County Downwinders in the County Administration Building.
Click here to purchase this photo

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - After 20 years of waiting, some Mohave County residents are starting to see progress in their fight for compensation from the federal government.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jan Brewer met with the Mohave County Downwinders, a group of residents who were affected by the nuclear testing in Nevada in the 1950s and '60s.

The group has been fighting since the 1990 passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to get the southern half of Mohave County included in a list of 20 counties in Nevada, Utah and Arizona receiving compensation from the federal government for health problems, such as cancer, linked to the testing.

According to Arizona Mining Inspector Joe Hart, the southern half of the county was left off of the list due to a typo. Mohave was spelled with a "j" instead of an "h," and a federal staffer thought the document referred to the Mojave Desert, not the county, he said.

Many of the 100 residents attending Tuesday's meeting told Brewer of their and their friends' and family members' battles with cancer.

"It's heartbreaking to watch family and friends die of cancer. It's heartbreaking to read a Web site and see a list of counties eligible for federal compensation and knowing that I've been raised in a county that's not on the list," said Downwinder Eve Hanna.

"I feel like we were discriminated against. I have relatives in Yavapai County who are receiving compensation," said Helen Masten from Hackberry. Both of her parents, a brother and a sister have suffered from cancer.

Another resident said she lost 31 members of her family, her husband's family and friends to illness linked to the radioactive fallout. She saw people lose their homes and property just to cover their medical bills.

Eddie Patello found it hard to believe that the winds blowing south from the test site turned east once they reached the Grand Canyon and never crossed the southern part of Mohave County.

"(My grandfather) was always bewildered by the high rate of cancer in the area," said Matt Capalby. His grandfather was a doctor during the 1950s and '60s. Capalby still has his grandfather's records, and along with other records he has been able to determine the wind patterns in the area during the testing. He said he sent the information to the Arizona Legislature and Congress to no avail.

"We've seen an entire generation decimated," Capalby said.

Mohave County residents weren't the only ones affected by the testing, said Louise Benson from the Hualapai Tribe. The tribe has many elders who have suffered and died from cancer.

"How many have already passed away? Whole families have been affected," she said. "This has really been hard for Mohave County."

"I am not unfamiliar with your situation," Brewer said. She grew up in Nevada during the testing.

"This has been a long-time issue. It's 2010 and we're still talking about it," she said.

Brewer said she was aware of a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks on Feb. 26 that would include the county in the act. She encouraged the Downwinders to organize behind one spokesperson and share their stories and data with her office so she could lend her support.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Danielle Stephens

We have a committee that works hard on this subject of the Downwinders. We keep in contact with Congress and the Senators and the issue is in the congress now waiting to be voted on.

Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Article comment by: Danielle Stephens

Tom Udall introduced S791, it is a great bill, if passed it will help so many from lower Mohave County in Arizona and many more around this state as well as other states. It truly needs to be passed in Congress. Write the Judiciary Committee :
United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
Senate Office Building
224 Dirksen
Washington D.C. 20510

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011
Article comment by: Danielle Stephens

On behalf of Downwinders of Mohave County, Az,it is with deep regret that such horrible crimes as the event in Tucson,Az shooting of Gabby Giffords and others has taken place. We extend our prayers to all family and friends of the victims. Danielle Stephens, chairperson

Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Article comment by: Tom Bergstrand

Senator McCain told me November 3,2010 that he would help us, and he has kept his word.

Wanna work on that date a little ???

Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Article comment by: Danielle Stephens

Mohave County Downwinders have re-organized. We have formed a PAC under the name Downwinders of Mohave County,Az. We are moving forward and planning on hiring a lobbyist, we need donations to help in Washington to get HR 4712, Senate Bill 3270. Senate Bill 3224 passed. Danielle Stephens, Chairperson

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Article comment by: D Taylor

Ludicrous: That a bill to add a name that was OBVIOUSLY included in the original list of counties some twenty years ago, according to public records, has to be "introduced" (make someone aware of or bring into existance for the first time) in 2010. Twenty years and counting, (we aren't there yet), to correct a typo......LUDICROUS! *should there be a typo in the above text, rest assured, I am not employed by any governmental agency.

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2010
Article comment by: Danielle Stephens

Senator McCain told me November 3,2010 that he would help us, and he has kept his word. Bless him, he knows the situation to well himself. Thank you John McCain. Yours Truly, Danielle Stephens, Chairwoman for Mohave County Downwinders.

Posted: Monday, March 15, 2010
Article comment by: Lyn Cisneros

I grew up in Kingman in the 50's and 60's. Until I was about eleven years old, I believed unless there was an accident, usually either auto or gunshot, everyone would grow old and die of cancer.

In the small church I attended with my parents, we attended funeral after funeral of dear elders, some still called themselves "pioneers," who died of cancer.

It worried me and I once asked my mother what kind of cancer she thought I might get when it was my turn to die and would it hurt. She had a hard time convincing me not everyone died of cancer, because I had known nothing else.

When I was in second grade, our teacher used to take us outside to watch the big mushroom clouds that, when the time came, would save us from the communists. Often when playing in my neighborhood, my friends and I would stop and gratefully admire the lifesaving mushroom clouds.

Hopefully someone will take the lead and help deserving Kingmanites get Downwinder Compensation to which they are well entitled.

Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2010
Article comment by: Alan DiCicco

Economics 101. Not a prerequisite for "public servants." Just borrow and spend, spend and borrow. How's that working out?

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