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Legislation Would Give Compensation To 'Downwinders' Throughout Mohave County

Arizona’s Senator John McCain and Congressman Paul Gosar are pushing legislation that would give compensation to “down winders” in Mohave County. As Arizona Public Radio’s Aaron Granillo reports, a federal law excludes parts of the county from receiving financial relief.

Jean Bishop was a baby when atomic explosions would fill the sky near her home in Nevada. It was in the early 50s, when her family lived downwind from government nuclear test sites. Then, in 2013, Bishop developed breast cancer. A year later, her sister received the same diagnosis.

“And I do believe it’s because of the nuclear testing, and the downwind results from that testing,” says Bishop.

Bishop is now a Mohave County supervisor. The district she represents is not included in a federal compensation program for “downwinders.” But, a new bill would extend the program to cover the entire county. Similar legislation has failed before, but Bishop says she’s hopeful this time will be different.

“You never give up hope, and that’s what you learn when you have cancer is you fight. And, I think this compensation is due to those families that have lost a loved one,” says Bishop.

If the legislation passes, downwinders throughout Mohave County would be eligible for $50,000. In a statement, Congressman Gosar said, “these families have suffered enough. It’s time for Congress to correct this injustice.”

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