The Human Face of the Nuclear Arms Race via Common Dreams

The pernicious quest for nuclear arms all in the name of a “greater good” – has tens of thousands of human faces, who paid a bitter price, which we should not forget.

The legacy of human suffering from amassing nuclear arsenals remains ignored in the current debate over eliminating these horrific weapons of mass destruction.

Lest we forget, the Energy Employee Illness Compensation Program Act, which I helped draft and push for, was enacted 11 years ago this week. It was based on legislation first proposed by Senator John Glenn (D-Oh) in 1992. “What good is it to protect ourselves with nuclear weapons,” Glenn would often ask, “if we poison our people in the process?”

As of 2010, some 50,000 people have received $6.5 billion for illnesses and deaths following exposure to ionizing radiation, beryllium and other toxic substances while making nuclear weapons.

A lot of credit goes to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson who saw the need for justice for sick workers and their families, ostracized in their communities and driven into poverty from a system that spared no expense to fight their claims in the name of national security.  Paul Jacobs, an IPS Fellow, was the first to bring the plight of radiation victims of the nuclear arms race to public attention in the 1950s. Later in 1999 and 2000, Joby Warrick at the Washington Post and Pete Eisler at USA Today played prominent roles in waking up the nation and the Congress to this injustice.

Continue reading at The Human Face of the Nuclear Arms Race

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