Radiation, Risk, and RECA – Equitable Compensation for Uranium Mining and Milling Workers, NTS Downwinders, and On-Site Test Participants

T. Buhl (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

In 1990 Congress enacted the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to provide compensation to underground uranium miners, Nevada Test Site downwinders, and on-site nuclear test participants, who have been diagnosed with a RECA-compensable disease and were present in defined areas during defined time periods. RECA has since been amended to include above-ground uranium miners, uranium millers and ore transporters. A committee was formed in 2002 by the National Academies' Board of Radiation Effects Research to review the most recent information regarding radiation risk assessment and its implications for RECA populations, and to determine, among other things, whether any additional geographic areas or populations should be added to RECA. RECA currently applies to downwinders in specific counties in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona; to uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters in 11 states in the western United States, and to all on-site test participants. In this presentation we discuss the committee's methods, findings, and recommendations. The committee's study included a review of the areas and populations currently covered under RECA, the RECA-compensable diseases, the degree of possible radiation exposure, and related risk of radiogenic disease. Committee activities also involved assessing the medical screening and education programs currently being conducted to identify RECA-eligible individuals, and advising the Health Resources and Services Administration on ways to improve these programs.

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