Supervisor seeks help for area's victims of radiation

Mohave County Supervisor Pete Byers is requesting congressional support to introduce legislation that would put all of Mohave County on the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Program map.

Byers is the District 1 Supervisor who represents the Mohave County area that includes Kingman.

He is lending his support to county residents who claim nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site caused them, or a family member who died, to develop cancer as a result of radiation fallout that fell on Mohave County while testing took place in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Although other counties within the state, including Coconino, Yavapai, Gila, Navajo and Apache, are on the RECP map, Mohave County somehow slipped through the cracks.

Because Mohave County is not on the map, Mohave County residents who contracted certain cancers caused by nuclear fallout are not eligible for compensation under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

Byers placed the item on Mohave County Board of Supervisor's agenda to be discussed during Monday's meeting.

Byers, who lived in Mohave County during the years above-ground nuclear testing was being conducted, is one of several government officials who have promised their support in righting what some residents say is a long-overdue injustice that needs to finally be addressed.

The Mohave Downwinders, a group led by Eleanore Fanire, have been meeting for several months in an organized effort to get Mohave County on the program map.

Fanire, who lived with her family in Mohave County during the years of testing, had a type of cancer included on a list of cancers caused by radiation fallout.

Her mother also had cancer, and her brother died last year of glioblastoma cancer, also on the RECP list of cancers that can be caused by radioactive fallout.

Fanire isn't sure why Mohave County is not included in the list of counties receiving compensation.

She suspects that the county was not properly represented when legislation was introduced in 1990, creating the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

At that time, regulations were issued by the U.S.

Department of Justice that established procedures to resolve claims.

Addition counties were added to the list on July 10, 2000 when the "Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000" was enacted, but Mohave County was skipped over again.

Fanire said another possibility for the oversight could have been that when original legislation was introduced someone spelled "Mohave" with a "j" instead of an "h," Fanire said.

The misspelling might have resulted in a request that "Mojave County" be placed on the program map, which could have been confused with the Mojave Desert, located in California, and therefore denied.

The advocacy group, which is trying to get both Mohave County and La Paz counties added to the map, has gained attention from state and local government officials since they began meeting.

U.

S.

Rep.

Trent Franks, who represents Arizona's 2nd District, which includes Mohave County for the most part, Rep.

Rick Renzi, Sen.

John McCain and Joe Hart, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, have said they will lend their support in getting Mohave County on the program map.

Franks told the Kingman Daily Miner that he plans to introduce legislation to place Mohave County of the RECP map when Congress convenes after the first of next year.

Many Mohave County residents who lived in Kingman, the county seat since 1887, while nuclear testing was going on, say they watched as nuclear blasts lit up the skies.

Hart, a life-long Kingman resident, said it is unfortunate that Mohave County has not had proper representation in this issue in the past.

He said Mohave County residents were told that nuclear testing was safe and harmless.

Statistics show that Mohave County has a greater number of types of cancer due to radiation fallout than other counties currently on the RECP map, according to Shari Farrington, a field representative in Franks' office.

Downwinders who live in counties recognized by the U.S.

Department of Justice, the agency that administers the RECP program, can apply for a $50,000 payment.

Downwinders who lived Mohave County are being advised not to apply for compensation for self or a family member who has died until the county gets on the program map because that person will be turned down, and an applicant is only allowed to reapply for compensation three times.

The next Mohave Downwinders meeting will be held Saturday at the Kingman Community Foundation building at 2983 John L Ave.

A presentation including videos will be shown at 10 a.m.

with the question and answer portion of the meeting beginning at noon.

For information about Mohave Downwinders, call 718-0453.