Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Monday, May 02, 2005

NAS downwinders study released

By Larry Craig

I wanted to let you know about the release of a study that is potentially important to many Idahoans. The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report on the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was released late afternoon on Thursday, April 28, 2005.

Under the current law, RECA compensation is available only to residents of specific counties, in specific geographic regions, during specific timeframes. Although that law was drafted using the best scientific standards available at the time, the idea of narrowly-defined geographic boundaries as a standard to determine radiation exposure has become obsolete according to the principles of modern science. That has always been my frustration with the current law, and I was very glad the NAS report addressed that issue -- it is high time for a change.

The report also makes a series of recommendations for Congress that could eventually lead to a nationwide, science-based expansion of RECA. This would require the establishment of a level of radiation exposure and a probability of exposure at that level that will determine eligibility for compensation across the nation.

I believe that the cancer victims in Idaho deserve equitable consideration under existing compensation programs, and continue to extend my heartfelt sympathies to them and to their families. I have been very actively engaged in this issue and in the Congressionally-directed review of downwinder compensation programs. My goal is to ensure all Idahoans access to the RECA process as soon as possible, and I am exploring all options for achieving that goal. In coordination with Senator Crapo, I am working on legislation that will expand RECA to include all counties in Idaho.

More information, an executive summary and the full 372-page report are available on the National Academies of Science's website, http://www.nas.edu. If you have further questions regarding this issue, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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