WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Congresswoman Harriet Hageman (R-WY) introduced legislation to ensure those who worked in and around the uranium mines in Wyoming and the west before the federal government implemented proper safety procedures are fairly compensated for the illnesses that stemmed from their work.
“Wyoming miners and workers who took on an unknown risk to do this dangerous but essential work deserve to be taken care of. At the same time, it is important this legislation is targeted toward those most directly impacted by the mining, milling and transporting of uranium while ensuring we are not adding astronomical amounts to our national debt,” said Senator Lummis. “By reapportioning unused COVID-era funds, the Uranium Miners and Workers Actof 2023 will ensure these miners and workers in Wyoming and across the west have access to the care they need.”
“Our uranium miners and workers lived out the code of the west every day, putting themselves in danger to provide us with affordable energy, and our nation is better for it. It’s our turn to fulfill the code by keeping the promise made to them,” said Congresswoman Hageman.“This bill provides just compensation to those in a way that stays true to conservative fiscal principles and provides vital assistance for healthcare expenses.”
The Uranium Miners and Workers Actof 2023 amends the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) which provided compensation to those injured due to exposure to radiation from nuclear testing and uranium production.
RECA was scheduled to sunset in 2022 until a two-year extension was passed. The program will now sunset on June 7, 2024, leaving many miners and workers in need of long-term care in limbo.
RECA previously only extended benefits to those who handled uranium until 1971. This legislation extends benefits to those working in a uranium mine or mill or those transporting uranium until December 31, 1978, and provides up to $475 million for those suffering from cancers and other diseases associated with uranium production and transportation. These funds will be sourced, in part, from unobligated funds from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act and the American Rescue Plan.
RECA provides one-time cash payments to people who may have developed cancer or other specified diseases after being exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing, uranium mining, milling or transporting.
RECA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 15, 1990.
Administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ), RECA has awarded more than $2.5 billion in benefits to more than 40,000 claimants since 1990.o All beneficiaries must prove geographic, participation, disease and exposure requirements to receive the benefit.
Read the bill here.