WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Downwinders Act to renew and extend protections for Utahns and others under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). Downwinders are residents of certain counties that developed cancer after nearby above-ground atomic weapons testing. Eligibility under RECA is currently set to expire on July 7, 2022.
The Downwinders Act extends RECA protections for ten additional years, expands eligibility to include individuals in Utah and New Mexico who have been found, through evidence-based data, to have been adversely affected yet have not been eligible for compensation under current law, requires new research from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Energy to identify if other counties should be provided eligibility, and pays for all costs of the act by auctioning government-owned spectrum.
Sen. Lee also sent a letter with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) to the director of the National Cancer Institute requesting that previously available data on atomic testing radiation exposure again be made accessible to the public.
Of the bill, Sen. Lee said, “The impact of atomic testing on the health of those in Utah and the West has lasted decades. Downwinders have been seriously harmed by government action, and yet the government still does not recognize many who have been hurt. This bill commits the federal government to care for these Utahns.”