Pin It
Favorite

Fallout Fracas 

by Brett Wilkonson & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & lmost all of the 140 million Americans alive during the nuclear bomb tests of the 1950s were exposed, in some degree, to radioactive fallout. Thirty million have died or are expected to die of cancer. Yet only a tiny fraction of those cases -- no more than 16,000 -- can be attributed to nuclear fallout, say three researchers from the National Cancer Institute in a study published in January.


That estimate is low, say some fallout victims' advocates. They worry that the study lends support to a recommendation that would significantly decrease the number of downwinders covered by a federal compensation program.


The study follows a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report that recommended scrapping the geography-based standards of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). That 1990 law provides payments to downwinders suffering from certain cancers who lived in parts of Nevada, Arizona and Utah during the tests. The Academy report said radioactive fallout was likely not a "substantial contributing cause of cancer," and it recommended compensation be based on medical evidence instead of location. Some cancer victims living in Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana believe they were stricken by fallout from radioactive releases from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state in that same era.


It's difficult to prove that fallout exposure caused a given case of cancer, downwinders say, and developing new compensation standards could take years.


"The government might as well say there is not going to be any more compensation," says Tona Henderson, an activist in Emmett, Idaho, who has lost 10 family members to cancers she believes were induced by fallout.


While Congress debates how to change RECA, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., introduced legislation in December to extend compensation to their states, which have counties that were among the hardest hit by fallout. Downwinders suffering from cancer are running out of time, says Henderson: "They should include us in RECA now and study us later."





This article first appeared in & lt;a href="http://www.hcn.org" & High Country News & lt;/a & .
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Failing at the Three E's
  • Failing at the Three E's

    Before giving Butch Otter a third term, consider his track record on education, the economy and the environment
    • Oct 15, 2014
  • Time To Move On
  • Time To Move On

    Publisher's Note
    • Oct 15, 2014
  • Save Our Democracy
  • Save Our Democracy

    Fingerprinting? There's a better way to protect Idaho's elections
    • Oct 15, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
A T. Rex Named Sue

A T. Rex Named Sue @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • Dueling Measures

    Everything you need to know about Washington's battling gun-control initiatives
    • Oct 1, 2014
  • David and Goliath

    All signs point to another Cathy McMorris Rodgers win, but Joe Pakootas doesn't think so
    • Oct 8, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation