Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
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.
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.
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.
- Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
- Nuclear weapons testing
- Nevada Test Site
- Uranium mining and the Navajo people
- Nuclear weapons and the United States
- Pacific Proving Grounds
- Radium and radon in the environment
- Uranium mining in the United States
- Uranium mining debate
- Anti-nuclear movement in the United States
- "George Bush XLI President of the United States: 1989-1993 - Statement on Signing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act". The American Presidency Project.