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Talk to Terrie: RECA Reform

March 5, 2021

March 5, 2021

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CWP Blog

RECA Reform

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was signed into law in 1990. This legislation currently compensates uranium miners, millers and transporters as well as people who lived downwind from the above ground nuclear testing for cancers and other diseases.

If Congress does not act, this compensation program will end on July 10, 2022.

In 2019, both the House and the Senate introduced legislation that would not only extend the program for at least 19 years but would also cover additional groups and expand the financial and medical coverage.  There are differences between the two bills.  But both agree to,

  • Extend the covered years for uranium workers from 1970 through 1990.
  • Include uranium core drillers in the program.
  • Provide coverage for onsite participants of the Trinity Test, the first nuclear test in New Mexico.
  • Allow downwinders to receive the same financial and medical benefits uranium workers receive under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).
  • Adrenal cancer or any other chronic renal disease, including nephritis and kidney tubal tissue injury as compensable for uranium workers.

Both bills also expand the number of places that will be considered Downwinder States.  These include Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Guam.  The House version provides that downwinders from Arizona would be eligible for compensation.

I understand that legislators are considering reintroducing the legislation in the near future.

The post-71 uranium workers have been fighting for these changes for many years.  According the June 28, 2010 article in Scientific America to Linda Evers, then Vice-President of the Post-71 Uranium Exposure Committee, explained that the reason that uranium workers employed after 1970 are not covered is because the government issued new safety regulations for uranium workers in 1971.  Unfortunately, those regulations were slow to be implemented and enforced.

In reviewing the bills, I was pleased to find that two groups of workers are now covered under EEOICPA.  The first group are the employees who cleaned up the uranium mills.  The other group is the cleanup crew at the Enewetak Atoll and who were employed by Eberline Instruments.

Cold War Patriots supports the reintroduction and passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments.  “These new amendments to expand and extend RECA is an opportunity for our nation to substantially recognize thousands of Americans suffering from radiation-related illnesses,” says Tim Lerew, CWP Spokesman.