PRESS RELEASE

RECA and Compensating Navajo Nation Uranium Miners 

24-7PressRelease
09 October 2010

While Congress considers amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) proposed by U.S. Representative Tom Udall earlier this year, which would specifically allow compensation to workers exposed after 1971, make qualification for benefits easier to obtain, incorporate additional exposure testing and apply to those exposed to fallout from nuclear testing in more geographical areas, additional RECA coverage efforts are in the works.

One movement seeks to expand RECA to cover members of the Navajo Nation who were workers or children of workers in the uranium industry. Navajo workers and their descendants have experienced unique and devastating effects since uranium mining began on or near reservation lands.

Uranium Mines on Reservation Lands

As the largest Native American tribe in the U.S., the Navajo Nation covers about 27,000 square miles of parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Because some of the uranium mines operating during the 1950s and 1960s were located on Navajo reservation lands in these states, many of the uranium mine workers were members of the Navajo Nation and were repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. This caused the uranium miners, their families and later generations throughout the Navajo Nation to experience radiation-related illnesses like cancer, kidney disease and birth defects.

In addition, there has been a significant environmental impact on Navajo lands. According to Navajo President Joe Shirley, some uranium mines and milling sites were never properly closed or cleaned up. Residents near exposed areas have experienced sickness from radiation and pollution to the land and water surrounding their homes. This resulted in a tribal decision in 2005 to ban all uranium mining and milling on Navajo lands, but as the cost of uranium rises, companies have been knocking on the Navajo Nation's door.

Efforts to Expand RECA

The Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers Committee has led a grassroots effort in recent years to aid the children of Navajo uranium miners who suffer ongoing effects related to radiation exposure. This group claims that many Navajo people who would otherwise be eligible for RECA coverage cannot get the help they deserve because the medical records from 50 or more years ago they need as proof no longer exist. If the RECA amendments proposed in 2010 pass, many more Navajo may be able to get the medical care they need to treat their radiation-related diseases.

In past meetings with the Navajo nation about the continued effects of uranium mining, U.S. Representative Tom Udall has stated that "he is committed to continuing a dialogue on the effects of uranium mining on Navajo people and to seek justice for those who have been harmed." His recently proposed amendments to RECA could benefit many members of the Navajo nation.

In addition to adding areas of coverage and including post-1971 workers, the RECA amendments could help the Navajo by allocating funds for further research on the impact of radiation exposure to workers, their families and communities. They could also allow RECA claimants to use affidavits in place of non-existent records and grant more compensation and medical benefits to eligible victims.

Respect and Support

Navajo President Joe Shirley continues to fight for RECA amendments, a moratorium on uranium mining in the U.S. and help with addressing the reservation environmental issues. The first step in compensating the Navajo people exposed to radiation and uranium activity who need help today would be for Congress to pass the proposed amendments, which are currently awaiting a hearing before the Senate or House Judiciary Committee.

If you are a former uranium miner or miller or descendant of one, contact an experienced radiation exposure attorney to discuss your legal rights and options for compensation. You deserve help with your medical care stemming from radiation exposure, so do not wait to start the recovery and compensation process for you and your loved ones.

Article provided by Killian & Davis PC Visit us at www.killianlaw.com

  

    


Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html