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US House passes extension of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

Priscilla nuclear test
U.S. Department of Energy
The 37-kiloton "Priscilla" nuclear test was detonated at the Nevada Test Site in 1957. It was one of hundreds of detonations in the Southwest that impacted public health for generations.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a short-term extension of a federal law that provides compensation to residents and workers in the West who were exposed to radiation during the Cold War.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act is set to expire in July and the two-year extension is designed to give lawmakers more time to craft a long-term solution supporters hope will extend the program until 2040 and broaden eligibility for people known as downwinders.

Tribal leaders in the Southwest want the law to include more uranium industry workers and increase the compensation to those eligible.

The U.S. Senate recently approved the measure and it now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk.