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Sun, Aug. 18

County to charge youths in school plot

Sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the project will study the recent biologic, epidemiologic and related scientific evidence associating radiation exposure with cancers or other impacts on human health.

Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site was a common occurrence during the years Fanire, 58, attended junior high and high school in Kingman.

More than 100 above-ground nuclear tests and five so-called "safety tests" that involved dispersing plutonium were conducted in Nevada from 1951 through 1963, according to a 1989 government assessment of nuclear testing.

The Office of Technology Assessment report states that 12 billion units of radioactivity were released during above-ground tests at the site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

U.S.

officials assured the public that radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing was harmless, Fanire said.

Teachers and students would file out into the schoolyard to watch the huge radioactive dust clouds fill the skies over Las Vegas.

"When the test site tested a bomb, we were taken outside to watch," she said.

"It was like going outside to see it rain.

We were told it was safe."

Since then Fanire has contracted ovarian cancer, which is included on a list of cancers that can be caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear testing.

And several members of her family have contracted various forms of cancer also on the list.

Fanire's brother died from cancer and many of her former classmates, friends and neighbors who lived in Mohave County during the years of testing have also contracted various forms of cancer and other diseases associated with Iodine-131, the radioactive material released during atomic bomb tests.

Before the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was created in 1990, Fanire and other Mohave County residents were unaware of the connection between radiation fallout from the Nevada Test Site and life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

Laura Taylor, a Prescott attorney who is aiding the Mohave Downwinders in their battle to get Mohave County placed on the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program map, said hundreds, potentially thousands of Mohave County residents have been affected by radioactive fallout.

Many have died and many have contracted cancer and other diseases caused by the fallout, she contends.

Downwinder Sheryl Esposito, 44, said her mother, father, and five siblings have died of cancers caused by the fallout, and about a dozen other family members have serious illnesses related to radiation from the testing.

Fanire said some Mohave County families who lived in the county during the time of testing have lost 20 or more family members.

"It makes you want to just sit down and cry," she said.

To add insult to injury, Mohave County residents cannot be compensated through the RECP.

Administrated by the U.S.

Department of Justice, the program was approved to provide compensation for individuals with certain diseases related to radiation exposure.

First introduced in 1981 by Sen.

Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the program specifies a payment of $50,000 to downwinders physically present in certain counties during above-ground nuclear weapons testing from 1951 to 1958 or during 1962 who later developed specified diseases.

The payment can also go to a family member if the downwinder has died.

However, for some reason no one can fathom, Mohave County was never added to the list of designated areas even though five Arizona counties, including Gila County, which is southeast of Mohave County, were included.

"I think that people back East who were making the decisions (of what areas to include in the program) were thinking about the Mojave Desert, not realizing that Mohave County is a different place in the middle of other areas that were included," Fanire said.

Four years ago, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000 were enacted.

At that time, widespread changes were made, including adding additional diseases and adding new categories.

However, once again, Mohave County was excluded.

During the past year, the Mohave Downwinders have gained the attention of state lawmakers who are trying to pass legislation to get Mohave County included in the program.

State support of the resolution is needed before it can be sent to Congress.

Fanire and other Mohave Downwinders testified before a National Academy of Sciences committee Dec.

15, 2003.

In January they testified at a state Senate hearing.

Fanire said she is thrilled and excited that her efforts on behalf of Downwinders may finally be paying off paying off.

The testimony given this week will be evaluated and reported to RECP officials, who will also use the information to help determine if Mohave County will be placed on the RECP map the next time areas are added.

Fanire said program officials will also consider years later than 1962, when underground testing took place at the Nevada Test Site.KINGMAN – Three Manzanita Elementary School students will be charged in juvenile court Monday in connection with a plot to kill the school's principal, Deputy Mohave County Attorney Troy Messer said.

On Friday, Messer did not specify what the actual charges will be.

He noted that the students can not be charged as adults because they are not yet 14.

Messer said one 10-year old and two 11-year old boys, all fifth-graders, will be charged in connection with a plot to kill 43-year-old school principal Mary Ann Smith.

Investigators determined that the plot had been hatched because Smith told some boys to quiet down during their lunch period, Lt.

Dean Brice has said.

The boys planned to use a shotgun, knife, sword and martial arts blow to kill Smith.

Three fifth-grade male students have been suspended from school pending an expulsion hearing as a result of the investigation of the plot.

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