House Bill Would Expand Downwinder Eligibility in Mohave County

Aug 8, 2017

A bipartisan group in Congress has introduced a compensation bill for those sickened by nuclear testing in the Southwest during the 1950s and ’60s. The group known as downwinders suffers high levels of health problems caused by radiation exposure. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

U.S. troops witness a 1951 nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site. Radiation from such blasts is thought to have caused high rates of cancer and other diseases among thousands of Southwestern residents called downwinders.
Credit U.S. Federal Government/Public domain

The legislation introduced by Republican Paul Gosar would allow downwinders who live in southern Mohave County to receive $50,000 in restitution. The area, which includes part of the Hualapai Reservation, was left out of earlier federal compensation programs. Residents of Clark County, Nevada would also be eligible under the new bill.

The Four Corners Region has high rates of cancer and other diseases thought to have been caused by radioactive contamination from the Cold War nuclear arsenal buildup.

According to the Justice Department, more than 20,000 downwinder claims have been approved since the 1990s, totaling more than $2 billion.