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House Bill Would Expand Downwinder Eligibility in Mohave County

U.S. Federal Government/Public domain

A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced a compensation bill for those sickened by nuclear testing in the Southwest during the 1950s and ’60s. The group known as downwinders suffers high levels of health problems caused by radiation exposure. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The legislation introduced by Republican Paul Gosar would allow downwinders who live in southern Mohave County to receive $50,000 in restitution. The area, which includes part of the Hualapai Reservation, was left out of earlier federal compensation programs. Residents of Clark County, Nevada would also be eligible under the new bill.

The Four Corners Region has high rates of cancer and other diseases thought to have been caused by radioactive contamination from the Cold War nuclear arsenal buildup.

According to the Justice Department, more than 20,000 downwinder claims have been approved since the 1990s, totaling more than $2 billion.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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