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Injustice: Mohave County downwinders wait ?forever for compensation for radiation induced illnesses

Clock ticking for righting injustice to county’s downwinders Jul 31, 2017

Time, obviously, isn’t on the side of those in southern Mohave County seeking compensation for illnesses caused by atomic weapons tests more than a half century ago.

Nor is geography. The federal government compensates civilians who got sick from the radiation, some as far away as Wyoming. In a cruel oversight, Mohave County south of the Grand Canyon isn’t part of the compensation area.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar has filed yet another bill to correct the injustice. Will is go any further than the ones he and Sen. John McCain authored almost three years ago? And, if the bill passes, is it too late to do much good?

The latter question is very real. Above ground atomic weapons tests continued in the Nevada desert until the early 1960s, meaning the youngest “downwinders” who were alive at the time are now almost 55 years old.

It’s unclear how many people in our region would be actually qualify for the compensation if not excluded by geography. During the testing period, the peak population of the county was about 8,500.

The federal compensation program, established when the government admitted the tests caused a variety of cancers to the downwinders, is aimed at providing financial help and also treatment. We’d like to think the treatment options could help a few people if the bill were to become law. The clock is ticking quickly for those people.

The compensation fund also provides assistance to qualified survivors, an option that is good but doesn’t right the wrong. The Gosar bill is one that’s easy to delay, if that’s the intention. It’s very difficult to reconstruct baseline data from a half century ago. How much radiation dusted southern Mohave County? Who was affected? Hard data is lacking.

Yet the issue is really one of fairness and common sense. Why are some of the included compensation areas many hundreds of miles away from the testing ground, while our area, virtually next door, is not?

The real question is why it’s taken so long to correct a past injustice.


August 2, 2017 - Posted by | health, Legal, USA

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