Lee Introduces 2-Year RECA Reauthorization Bill to Provide Compensation for Victims of Atomic Testing

April 18, 2024


WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) for an additional two years. This legislation aims to provide needed compensation to individuals who have been adversely affected by atomic weapons testing conducted by the federal government. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) cosponsored the legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-UT) is leading the effort in the House of Representatives.


Since its enactment in 1990, RECA has been instrumental in providing support to individuals who participated in atomic weapons testing or lived near test sites during periods of atmospheric testing between 1951 and 1992. The program has also extended benefits to uranium miners, mill workers, and ore transporters who were exposed to radiation while working in the uranium industry between 1942 and 1971.


Of the bill, Sen. Lee said, "When the government harms people, victims should be able to receive compensation. Downwinders and others harmed by the nation's early atomic program often suffer the consequences of exposure decades after the fact. Passing my RECA extension would send a message saying the United States government is not abandoning these victims and communities."


Of the bill, Sen. Romney said,I’m proud to once again cosponsor an extension of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which will allow residents of Utah who were affected by our nation’s early nuclear program to be properly compensated.” 


Of the bill, Rep. Maloy said,Many Utahns were harmed by the federal government’s aboveground testing of nuclear weapons during the early atomic program, and decades later they, along with their families, are still paying a high price. RECA was created as a way for the federal government to partially compensate Americans who have developed certain cancers and diseases as a result of being downwind from nuclear testing and exposed to radiation. Congress cannot let RECA expire in June. That’s why I’m working with Senator Lee to ensure that downwinders continue to be covered.


To date, RECA has awarded over $2.4 billion in benefits to more than 38,000 claimants. However, the program is scheduled to sunset on June 10th, 2024, underscoring the urgent need for reauthorization.


The proposed bill seeks to ensure that all Americans who live within geographic areas adversely affected by atomic weapons testing are eligible for compensation. It reaffirms the government's commitment to supporting individuals who have suffered the long-term consequences of exposure to ionizing radiation.


For a one-pager, click HERE.

For bill text, click HERE.