Rally In Washington Calls For More Support For Victims Of Nuclear Testing
US Senator Ben Ray Lujan and Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez were among the lawmakers in Washington on Wednesday to rally with affected families in front of the Capitol Building seeking to expand compensation to radiation victims from the nation’s nuclear testing programs.
The bipartisan extension Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act passed the Senate this year as an amendment to the overall military spending package. It still awaits approval in the US House.
The original bill only covered parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The amendment covers other areas of those states and adds New Mexico, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Guam.
Members of both parties were on hand to tout the bill, and to hear from several people from those states who told their stories about how the nuclear testing and mining of the needed materials have affected the lives of themselves and their families.
Sen. Lujan told the families to never stop the fight for just compensation.
“We can correct this injustice in America. We can help more families. We can recognize those with the respect that they have earned,” he said. “Whether they were in those mines working for national security purposes or living in communities where this testing took place. In the United States we can and will get this done.”
Between 1945 and 1992, the United States conducted 206 above-ground nuclear weapons tests, releasing harmful radioactive material into the air and blanketing parts of the United States. Communities and individuals living near these test sites, known as “downwinders,” continue to suffer health effects related to the testing. Similarly, those who helped mine, mill and transport uranium needed for these weapons continue to bear the consequences of their work in defense of our nation.