Action on a bill to compensate victims of radiation from U.S. atomic bomb development of the '50s was completed Thursday by the House of Representatives.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, had passed both houses earlier, in slightly different form. Thursday's House action was to agree to the Senate bill and send it to the White House.Hatch said President Bush has agreed to sign the bill. Despite its initial opposition, the Justice Department has agreed not to try to block the bill's passage, Hatch said.
The bill provides payments of up to $50,000 to victims, or victims' heirs, of certain types of cancer known to be caused by radiation of the type created by fallout from weapons tests in Nevada. It would pay up to $100,000 to underground uranium miners who suffered radiation-induced cancer.
The miners were made eligible for higher payments because medical evidence suggests it was more likely that a miner developed cancer because of his work. It is far more difficult, if not impossible, to identify which downwind residents might have contracted cancer because of fallout radiation, officials said.
The Senate made uranium miners in Wyoming eligible for compensation, an addition that brought Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., to support the bill.