AP: Top prosecutors back compensation for those sickened by US nuclear weapons testing
New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and 13 other top prosecutors from around the U.S. are throwing their support behind efforts to compensate people sickened by exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and 13 other top prosecutors from around the U.S. are throwing their support behind efforts to compensate people sickened by exposure to radiation during nuclear weapons testing.
The Democratic officials sent a letter Wednesday to congressional leaders, saying “it’s time for the federal government to give back to those who sacrificed so much.”
The letter refers to the estimated half a million people who lived within a 150-mile (240-kilometer) radius of the Trinity Test site in southern New Mexico, where the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. It also pointed to thousands of people in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana and Guam who currently are not eligible under the existing compensation program.
The U.S. Senate voted recently to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act as part of a massive defense spending bill. Supporters are hopeful the U.S. House will include the provisions in its version of the bill, and President Joe Biden has indicated his support.
“We finally have an opportunity to right this historic wrong,” Torrez said in a statement.
The hit summer film “Oppenheimer” about the top-secret Manhattan Project and the dawn of the nuclear age during World War II brought new attention to a decadeslong efforts to extend compensation for families who were exposed to fallout and still grapple with related illness.
It hits close to home for Torrez, who spent summers visiting his grandmother in southern New Mexico, who lived about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from where the Trinity Test was conducted. She used rainwater from her cistern for cooking and cleaning, unaware that it was likely contaminated as a result of the detonation.
The attorneys general who signed onto Torrez’s letter are from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.