Examining the Need to Expand Eligibility Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

When:   Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 2 pm EDT, noon MDT

Where:  https://judiciary.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=4479

At the invitation of Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Tina Cordova, Co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), will provide written and oral testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties this week to urge the members to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include the Trinity Downwinders.

The Trinity Downwinders seek justice for the unknowing, unwilling, and uncompensated innocent victims of the first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945 in south central New Mexico.

Since RECA was first passed in 1990, the Trinity Downwinders have been excluded from the RECA Program.

The TBDC has been working with Senator, then Representative, Ben Ray Lujan and his staff, to bring attention to the need to expand RECA.  Over the years, the TBDC has been working with Senator Martin Heinrich, former Representative, now Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and Representatives from the Third Congressional District to bring the issues to the front.  In December, at the urging of Senator-elect Lujan, a virtual meeting was held with House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler.  The result of that meeting is the invitation for Cordova to provide testimony to the Subcommittee.

Cordova said, “The people of New Mexico have been waiting 75 years to be acknowledged by the US Government for their service and sacrifice during WWII.  The Downwinders, New Mexicans living downwind of the Trinity site were enlisted into service without consent or knowledge.  We are true patriots.  It will be a cathartic experience to tell Congress the history of our service and sacrifice.

On June 27, 2018, Cordova testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about Examining the Eligibility Requirements for the RECA Program to Ensure all Downwinders Receive Coverage. 

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/examining-the-eligibility-requirements-for-the-radiation-exposure-compensation-program-to-ensure-all-downwinders-receive-coverage , beginning at 1:02

The TBDC is anticipating assignment of a House Bill that will address inclusion of New Mexico into the RECA and will be making additions to the bill.

First, we request that the U.S. Government Issue an apology to the people of New Mexico for the intentional bombing of those living downwind of the first atomic test on July 16, 1945, at the Trinity site in southcentral New Mexico.  There is historical documentation that New Mexico was downwind of the Nevada Test Site through 1962 and scientists have stated that continued exposure to radiation is cumulative.

Second, the eligibility period must include exposure received from the Nevada Tests.

Third, the bill must require that the medical care provided to the Downwinders be like that available to nuclear workers under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

Fourth, the current RECA legislation is set to sunset on July 9, 2022.  The Downwinders request that the sunset provision be extended to at least July 9, 2045.

And finally, Congress does not always provide the necessary annual funding to the RECA Trust Fund, as shown in the mid-1990s when the U.S. Department of Justice wrote I.O.U.s to Uranium Workers.  The Downwinders request that recurrent annual funding be included in the proposed amendments. As documented in our 2017 health impact assessment, “Unknowing, Unwilling and Uncompensated:  The Effects of the Trinity Test on New Mexicans and the Potential Benefits of Radiation Exposure Compensation Amendments,” we demonstrate how lack of access to health care, economic impact, and generational trauma affect the People’s health and the health and well-being of their families to the current day.

https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/health-impact-assessment, pdf pp. 12, 75-77.

For more information please contact:

Tina Cordova @ [email protected] or visit www.trinitydownwinders.com

Phone (505) 897-6787,  FAX (505) 890-0157  or  [email protected]

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