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Rep. Ben McAdams seeks fallout compensation

for Sanpete County residents

 

By Rhett Wilkinson

Staff writer

7-30-2020

 

Rep. Ben McAdams is making strides in securing compensation for nuclear fallout, even for Sanpete County.

He co-sponsored a bill from Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., that would extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to the year of 2045. It’s planned to sunset in 2022.

Also, his amendment passed that would disallow funding for conducting or preparing for any explosive nuclear weapons test. Further, McAdams is a co-sponsor of the PLANET Act, which would not allow the utilization of cash reserve to get ready for or run an explosive nuclear test.

There’s another thing. The original RECA provided financial compensation for downwinders, or those on a negative end of nuclear fallout, in nine southern Utah counties, besides parts or all of 11 other states. Luján’s bill that McAdams is co-sponsoring would result in all Utah counties (and 11 other states), including Sanpete County, being covered.

“(The) harm caused … extended far past nine counties,” McAdams told the Sanpete Messenger.

McAdams explained how “secret files” that have been disclosed shows that federal government personnel were “very much aware” of the “harm” nuclear weapons testing was having. He said that the government would not even detonate a test if it meant that the wind was going to blow radiation from the testing to California.

However, it was OK with government personnel if the winds were blowing into Utah.

“They called us a low-use segment of the population,” McAdams said, noting that the officials acted “with wanton disregard and negligence.”

“(It) really is shocking, the negligence of our government and the extent to which government bureaucrats went to cover up their negligence,” McAdams said.

He added that he thinks that it’s important that the federal government be held accountable for the “harm” caused to Utahns.

Ending nuclear testing is “an idea that was championed by President [Ronald] Reagan,” with President George H.W. Bush succeeding in ending nuclear testing, McAdams said. The last test was in 1992.

However, in the last year, the Trump administration has talked about resuming and conducting new nuclear tests. They would happen in the Nevada desert, the United States nuclear test site, just to the north of Las Vegas. The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes $10 million for the purpose of preparing for such a test—and testing could be ready to go in as little as three months. So McAdams is working on stopping nuclear weapons testing through his amendment, he said.

The bill with the amendment, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, passed the House. It awaits approval in the Senate.