Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

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Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to provide jurisdiction and procedures for claims for compassionate payments for injuries due to exposure to radiation from nuclear testing.
Acronyms (colloquial) RECA
Nicknames Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990
Enacted by the 101st United States Congress
Effective October 15, 1990
Public Law 101-426
Statutes at Large 104 Stat. 920
Titles amended 42 U.S.C.: Public Health and Social Welfare
U.S.C. sections amended 42 U.S.C. ch. 23 § 2210 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 2372 by Wayne Owens (DUT) on May 16, 1989
  • Committee consideration by House Judiciary
  • Passed the House on June 5, 1990 (agreed voice vote)
  • Passed the Senate on August 1, 1990 (passed voice vote) with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on September 27, 1990 (agreed voice vote)
  • Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990
Areas covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program

The United States Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is a federal statute providing for the monetary compensation of people, including atomic veterans, who contracted cancer and a number of other specified diseases as a direct result of their exposure to atmospheric nuclear testing undertaken by the United States during the Cold War, or their exposure to high levels of radon while doing uranium mining. The 1990 act provided the following remunerations:

  • $50,000 to individuals residing or working "downwind" of the Nevada Test Site
  • $75,000 for workers participating in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests
  • $100,000 for uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters

In all cases there are additional requirements which must be satisfied (proof of exposure, establishment of duration of employment, establishment of certain medical conditions, etc.).

In some cases, however, it was extremely difficult for people to receive their compensation, especially in the case of the widows of uranium miners. Because many uranium miners were Native Americans, they did not have standard marriage licenses required to establish a legal connection to the deceased. In 1999, revisions were published in the Federal Register to assist in making award claims.

It was passed by Congress on October 5, 1990, and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on October 15.[1]

In 2000, additional amendments were passed which added two new claimant categories (uranium mill and ore workers, both eligible to receive as much money as uranium miners), added additional geographic regions to the "downwinder" provisions, changed some of the recognized illnesses, and lowered the threshold radiation exposure for uranium miners.

In 2002, additional amendments were passed as part of another bill, primarily fixing a number of draftsmanship errors in the previous amendments (which had accidentally removed certain geographic areas from the original act) and clarified a number of points.[2]

As of July 15, 2012, 25,804 claims under the act were approved (with 9,869 denied), expending a total of $1,707,998,044.[3]

As of March 2015, over $2 billion in compensation has been paid to claimants under the Act.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. "George Bush: "Statement on Signing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act," October 15, 1990". The American Presidency Project. University of California - Santa Barbara. 
  2. ^ "Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Geographic Areas". U.S. Department of Justice:Civil Division Compensation Programs. 
  3. ^ "Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Awards to Date" (PDF). U.S. Department of Justice:Civil Division Compensation Programs. 
  4. ^ "Justice Department Surpasses $2 Billion in Awards Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act". United States Department of Justice. 2015-03-02. Retrieved 2015-04-11. 

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