HOUSE MEMORIAL 5

54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020

INTRODUCED BY

Angelica Rubio

 

 

 

 

 

A MEMORIAL

REQUESTING THE NEW MEXICO CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO EXPAND COMPENSATION UNDER THE FEDERAL RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT FOR INDIVIDUALS EXPOSED TO RADIATION.

 

     WHEREAS, from 1945 to 1962, the United States government implemented a massive program of conducting hundreds of atmospheric nuclear weapons development tests; and

     WHEREAS, to provide uranium for the atmospheric nuclear testing being carried out, the United States undertook uranium mining and processing in many areas, especially in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada and Utah; and

     WHEREAS, individuals in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and elsewhere were hired to work in the uranium mines and in uranium processing; and

     WHEREAS, large uranium deposits were found on or near the Navajo Nation, and many Navajo people were employed to work in the mines; and

     WHEREAS, thousands of individuals have been exposed to radiation in large doses through atmospheric nuclear weapons testing or through employment in uranium mining and processing; and

     WHEREAS, radiation exposure has been linked to a number of serious illnesses in exposed individuals, including cancers; gastrointestinal, neurological and blood disorders; and other conditions leading to the debilitation or death of individuals exposed to radiation; and

     WHEREAS, in 1990, the United States congress passed the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act; and

     WHEREAS, the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was designed to provide some compensation to those exposed to radiation through certain atmospheric nuclear weapons tests and uranium mining and processing operations; and

     WHEREAS, the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act designated certain areas of Arizona and Utah that were deemed to have been downwind of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing as official downwind areas for which compensation would be provided; and

     WHEREAS, the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act limited compensation for uranium miners, millers and haulers to those workers employed by the uranium industry before January 1, 1972; and

     WHEREAS, the amount of monetary compensation awarded pursuant to the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act differs widely according to whether an individual was exposed due to being in a downwind area or according to the type of uranium industry-related work the individual performed; and

     WHEREAS, under the strict guidelines of the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, many individuals who have lived downwind from test sites outside of Arizona, Nevada and Utah or who worked in the uranium industry have been left with no remedy for their radiation exposure; and

     WHEREAS, in 2019, United States Representative Ben R. Lujan introduced United States House Resolution 3783, which was then co-sponsored by United States Representatives Xochitl Torres Small and Debra A. Haaland, and United States Senators Tom Udall and Martin T. Heinrich have co-sponsored Senate Bill 947, both of which would extend compensation to uranium workers who were exposed from 1972 to 1990; and

     WHEREAS, United States House Resolution 3783 and United States Senate Bill 947 also proposed expanding the list of eligible workers to include uranium core drillers, in addition to uranium miners, millers and ore transporters, as employees potentially eligible for compensation from the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act; and

     WHEREAS, United States House Resolution 3783 would have added other areas to the list of downwind areas in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Guam; and

     WHEREAS, United States House Resolution 3783 and United States Senate Bill 947 would have made all qualifying claims eligible for one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) of compensation, regardless of whether the claimants were exposed as miners, millers, ore transporters, on-site employees or individuals living in a downwind area; and

     WHEREAS, United States House Resolution 3783 and United States Senate Bill 947 would have expanded the types of medical conditions that render claimants eligible for compensation pursuant to the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act; and

     WHEREAS, members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are continuing their previous efforts to expand and improve compensation for individuals exposed to radiation; and

     WHEREAS, on January 24, 2017, United States Senate Bill 197, a bill to amend the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to improve compensation for workers involved in uranium mining, and for other purposes, was co-sponsored by Senators Tom Udall and Martin T. Heinrich;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the New Mexico congressional delegation be requested to continue to support proposed federal legislation to expand and improve compensation under the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to members of the New Mexico congressional delegation.

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