MOHAVE COUNTY – Congressman Paul Gosar introduced a bill Friday that aims to provide compensation to downwinders not covered under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which provides monetary compensation to individuals who have contracted certain cancers or serious illness as a result of nuclear weapons testing.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, RECA currently covers Arizona downwinders in Apache, Coconino, Gila, Navajo and Yavapai counties, as well as the part of Arizona “that is north of the Grand Canyon.”
Gosar’s bill, the Downwinders Compensation Act, would expand the eligibility boundaries of RECA to include people residing in counties of close proximity to areas where nuclear weapons testing occurred, such as, Mohave County.
“Congressman Gosar’s bill gives the help and recognition that the people of Mohave County who have suffered from the government’s radiation tests have long needed,” said Mohave County District III Supervisor Buster Johnson in press release from U.S. Rep. Gosar’s office.
According to Cronkite News, Gosar’s bill to include all of Mohave County under RECA was first introduced in 2013 and then again in 2014. Both times, the bill was ruled out of order, they reported.
“Since my first term, I have I heard several gut-wrenching stories from individuals who now have cancer or have lost loved ones due to federal government negligence,” Gosar said in the press release. “For Congress to deny these victims the right to even file a claim is intolerable. It’s time for Congress to quit the cowardice and stand up to the injustice.”
According to the press release, from 1945 to 1962 the government conducted nearly 200 “atmospheric weapons development tests” as part of the Cold War. From 1951 to 1962, 100 above-ground nuclear tests were conducted 60 miles North of Las Vegas, leaving radiation to drift over areas that included Arizona, reported Cronkite News.
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