WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced Thursday that the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution to designate Oct. 30, 2020, as National Day of Remembrance for workers who helped develop and support the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
The Day of Remembrance honors American workers who supported the nation’s nuclear weapons efforts from World War II through the Cold War, as well as nuclear program workers today who continue this heroic legacy to advance nuclear power, nuclear medicine, scientific innovation, and other technology that keeps our country safe.
Tens of thousands of Americans have worked in the nuclear weapons programs since World War II at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs in New Mexico. Many of these workers became sick due to exposure from toxic or radioactive materials before proper workplace protections and scientific understanding were established. Congress has since enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) in October 2000.
This resolution additionally provides compensation to those who were exposed in uranium mines and mills during the Cold War, some of whom are covered separately by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). Udall and Heinrich have long pushed to expand the RECA law to compensate not only the workers affected, but those suffering from the effects of radiation during the Cold War by these nuclear weapons facilities.