Congress may finally do something for victims of radioactive fallout from atomic bomb testing in Nevada, according to a longtime activist who spent a week lobbying in Washington.
"I am more optimistic than ever that something will finally be done this year," said Cedar City resident Janet C. Gordon, chairwoman of the National Committee for Radiation Victims.She said she's optimistic for several reasons.
First, "We are getting more interest from areas where other types of radiation problems are occurring, such as Ohio." There, workers and neighbors of a plant that enriches uranium to make nuclear bombs have been dying of cancer they suspect was caused by the plant.
"There is joint interest in seeing some sort of procedure for justice for all victims of radiation," she said.
Also, Congress has set some precedent, she said, by recently voting to compensate "atomic veterans," those enlisted in the military who participated in atomic testing and later contracted cancer they feel was attributed to the testing.
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, plan to soon re-introduce legislation to compensate victims of radiation from fallout or uranium mining, which Gordon's group endorses.
Gordon said, "I think we have come up with a modest, compromise bill. It doesn't cover everyone and all their expenses, but it is passable with the deficit problems Congress faces. What most victims want anyway is some sort of acknowledgment that the government was at fault."
"We have a lot of victims on board ready to push for this, and to testify if needed. A lot, though, have said they are tired of it all, and have dropped out. Several have also died. We have a high attrition rate."