Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, introduced his bill on Wednesday to offer compensation to victims of radiation from U.S. atomic bomb tests and underground uranium mining in the 1950s and 1960s. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced an identical bill in the Senate last month.
Owens's bill has five co-sponsors: Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, Rep.James Bilbray, D-Nev., Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev., Rep. David Skaggs, D-Colo., and Rep. Bill Richardson, D-N.M.The Owens-Hatch bills offer payments of $50,000 to victims of certain radiogenic cancers who lived in the fallout-affected counties during the bomb tests, and $100,000 to miners who developed lung cancer. The difference in amounts reflects the greater certainty that radiation in the mines caused cancer.
An interagency task force report during the Carter administration conceded that the atomic bomb tests "undoubtedly caused at least some cancers" among those living downwind from the test site.