Downwinders get mixed support via Messenger Index

Since the summer of 2004, the Messenger Index has championed the voice of downwinders — those who were hit with atomic fallout during above-ground tests in the 1950s and ‘60s. Compensation established for some victims specifically excluded the hardest hit counties from any sort of recognition.

Nearly 13 years later, the cause continues at the national level through attempts to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990. This acknowledged those living in a handful of counties in Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Those receiving much lower doses fallout of cancer-causing Iodine-131.


“For all the people who are sick and dying and who have died, I feel like they’ve been let down by our government,” Henderson said.

In January, both of Idaho’s Senators introduced the latest legislation S.197, the seventh version of RECA amendments. This expands the geographic area and would include all Idahoans who have developed cancers from the fallout.

A few weeks later, Guam, also impacted by nuclear tests, sent a resolution of support for the Senate amendment.

On April 6, a companion House bill, H.R. 2049, was introduced listing 25 sponsors in the House. Labrador and Simpson are not among the sponsoring Representatives who come from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington, as well as Guam.


If you would like to help “push” the amendment out of committee Henderson asks you to write a short letter. While most people are inclined to write lengthly memories about those who’ve passed on or their own personal battles with cancer, these often aren’t read. A simple letter usually works better. Something that says, “We need this to pass. It’s been far too long,” she said.

In her years of letter-writing campaigns, Henderson has also discovered form letters don’t carry as much weight as a personal letter either.

Write your letter to Honorable Senator Chuck Grassley, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 224 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510-6050.

Read more at Downwinders get mixed support

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