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Keeping Alive the Downwinder Fight That the Oppenheimer Movie Glossed Over

March 15, 2024

March 15, 2024

Created with Sketch. CWP

This week, Oppenheimer won a total of seven awards at the Oscars ceremony, shining the spotlight on a difficult period in US history when the first atomic bomb was detonated on American soil in Los Alamos, NM. Although the efforts of the Manhattan Project scientists ultimately led to the US winning World War II, it was at a tremendous cost—the fullness of which would not be fully recognized for decades.

The Trinity Test cloud contaminated communities downwind of Los Alamos in 46 states for generations and continues to cause life-altering consequences even today. And that was only the first of hundreds of nuclear detonations that would take place in the US in the name of advancing America’s nuclear defense program.

Last summer there was lots of publicity around Bipartisan efforts to strengthen coverage under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that exists to provide compensation and healthcare coverage for workers in the uranium and nuclear defense industries that became ill as a result of their work to support the testing and development of nuclear technologies. The work required to advance legislation farther than it has ever gone has been enormous. Dozens of individuals and organizations have remained on the frontlines and behind closed doors fighting for the rights of nuclear workers and downwinders.

And the battle continues today. The Senate recently passed a measure, 69-30, to reauthorize and expand RECA, but the bill’s survival in the House remains uncertain. This RECA expansion measure would broaden compensation to Americans exposed to radiation in states like Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alaska, and Guam. Read more about the effort at the link below.

Cold War Patriots (CWP) is among the advocacy groups that spoke with legislators last year about the importance of reauthorizing and expanding RECA. CWP is a division of Professional Case Management (PCM), the first company qualified by the US Department of Labor to provide home healthcare to workers who have fallen ill because of their exposure to radiation and related toxins as part of their job. It is the only home healthcare company to serve as an active member of the RECA Working Group.

On a daily basis, PCM nurses treat patients with life-threatening diseases, from lung cancer to silicosis to chronic beryllium disease. They see firsthand the devastation that the nuclear fallout has caused to these dedicated workers, their families and their communities.

Recognizing that legislative support for strengthening RECA benefits is stronger than ever with interest from both sides of the aisle, CWP is working to build on the existing momentum to increase awareness for the issue and keep the pressure on legislators to act. CWP and other members of the RECA Working Group are continuing to meet behind the scenes to secure additional public and political support. The company also created a dedicated webpage where concerned citizens can find additional information about the status of expanded RECA legislation, the additional benefits available, and how they can get in touch with their legislators to voice their support.

For more information about our current efforts underway to further extend RECA benefits, visit