“Even though atmospheric nuclear weapons testing ended long ago in 1962, future cancer deaths will still far exceed past deaths due to long-lived fallout. Why is it that our government does not inform us of this future suffering while also failing to justly compensate past and present suffering?” – Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester in a statement supporting those damaged by the nation’s nuclear activities,
New Mexico is the birthplace of the atomic bomb and site of the first test in 1945. But people here were not included in the original legislation designed to compensate individuals harmed by the nation’s nuclear efforts. Last week, a new injustice: An amendment to the 2024 defense spending bill to allow federal compensation for New Mexicans hurt by mining or testing was struck from the National Defense Authorization Act during House-Senate Armed Service Committee negotiations last week.
Compensation for radiation exposure had been included as part of the defense spending bill in an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján along with GOP Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Luján has sponsored radiation exposure compensation bills in every Congress since he first was elected to the House in 2008.