Top prosecutors back compensation for those sickened by US nuclear weapons testing
Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan reports about New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and 13 other top prosecutors from around the U.S. who are uniting in support of efforts to compensate people sickened by exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing.
In a nutshell:
The attorneys general say that the existing compensation program does not cover people who lived within a 150-mile radius of the Trinity Test site in New Mexico, where the world's first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. They also say that the program does not cover thousands of people who were exposed to radiation while working in uranium mines and mills in the West.
“Without any warning or notification, this one test rained radioactive material across the homes, water and food of thousands of New Mexicans,” the letter states. “Those communities experienced the same symptoms of heart disease, leukemia and other cancers as the downwinders in Nevada.”
The big picture:
The letter comes as the U.S. House and Senate are considering a massive defense spending bill that includes provisions to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, Montoya Bryan notes. Exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing can have long-term health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and other health problems. The attorneys general say that it is time for the federal government to "right this historic wrong" and compensate the people who were sickened by exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing.
Read the article at the Associated Press.
In 2021, EHN columnist Peter Dykstra described four stops on a tour tracing American history through its pollution, including radioactive contamination around America's first plutonium factory in and near Hanford, Washington. The facility produced plutonium for tens of thousands of U.S. nuclear warheads during the Cold War and left a toxic mess that continues to plague the environment and nearby residents.