The federal government announced this week it has awarded more than $2 billion to people exposed to radiation during the atomic tests near Las Vegas in the 1950s. But it still has not recognized the county that was exposed to the highest levels of radioactive fallout.
Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 25 years ago. The federal government allocated $50,000 to any person diagnosed with cancer or other diseases linked to radiation exposure. Uranium miners were also eligible for claims. The Justice Department awarded more than 2,800 claims filed by members of the Navajo Nation, valued at more than $212 million.
The Justice Department has awarded more than $500 million in claims to Arizona residents. It made the money available to people living in almost all of northern Arizona, but left out parts of Mohave County.
Mohave County has the highest cancer rate in Arizona. The federal government estimates “downwinders,” or people suffering from cancer caused by atomic fallout, in Mohave were exposed to three times more radioactive fallout than people in a county next door that is eligible for compensation.
Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar plans to expand the legislation to include all of Mohave County.
The window to file claims closes in 2022.