Office of U.S. Representative Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ)
Yesterday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) voted to pass S. 4119, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), a bill that extends by two years the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000, to extend and expand eligibility under the RECA program to those who have suffered from cancers and other diseases related to fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War period of the 1950s and 1960.
Last week, O’Halleran joined a bipartisan letter calling on House leadership to bring the bill to a floor vote immediately.
“Uranium mining and atomic testing have left a toxic legacy across the Southwest. Now, generations later, tribal families in our district continue to deal with the illnesses and disease caused by contamination related to these decades-old activities,” said O’Halleran. “I support this legislation that extends the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund and ensures that families impacted by the testing, mining, and cleanup of radioactive material receive the compensation they deserve.”
O’Halleran championed the legislation the 116th and the 117th Congress, and has long been working to call greater attention to the issue in Washington. He’s hosted visits from Cabinet Secretaries at uranium mine sites, penned op-eds about the importance of preserving the Grand Canyon from expanded uranium mining, called on the Trump EPA to act, held the agency accountable, secured funding for cleanup, and more.
“On the Navajo Nation alone, there are over 500 abandoned World War II and Cold War Era uranium mine sites that have borne a toxic legacy across their sovereign lands, where uranium contamination can be found in animals, homes, and water,” continued O’Halleran. “I’ve met too many families that have lost many, if not most, of their family members to uranium-caused illnesses and disease, decades after these mines have been considered fully ‘abandoned’.”
Last month, O’Halleran’s Washington and Arizona staff visited abandoned uranium mine sites near Cameron, Arizona with the Environmental Protection Agency, and Navajo Environmental Protection Agency to hear about remediation needs and to learn from local tribal leaders on the effects these mines still have on public health.