For the first time in two decades, victims of radiation exposure in the Southwest were given an opportunity to speak before a House committee on the need to bring justice to communities downwind of federal nuclear test sites.

Rep. Greg Stanton testified on a bipartisan panel of witnesses before the House Judiciary subcommittee today, a continuation of his advocacy to extend compensation to Downwinders in lower Mohave County, Arizona and Clark County, Nevada.

Stanton has been seeking a hearing on the issue for more than a year.  He is the sponsor of H.R. 612, the Downwinders Parity Act of 2021, which would update RECA to include all of Mohave and Clark counties as affected areas.

The Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties’ hearing, “Examining the Need to Expand Eligibility Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA),” marked the first time in 20 years that a proposed expansion of RECA has been heard in the House. Stanton, a member of the Judiciary Committee, worked with its leaders to ensure Arizona Downwinders’ voices would be represented.

“For far too long residents across northwestern Arizona have been forgotten and victimized by the federal government. In fact, today’s hearing is the first time in more than two decades that many Arizonans—known as Downwinders—have even had the opportunity to be heard in the House,” Stanton said. “Time is running out for these Americans. It’s long past time for the federal government to take responsibility for its actions. It’s time for Congress to take a hard look at the boundaries created under RECA so that those living in Mohave County and Clark County can finally receive the justice they deserve.”

Stanton recommended Mohave County Supervisor Jean Bishop to testify on behalf of the residents of Mohave County; she spoke to her own family’s experience. Stanton also submitted a supportive statement on behalf of Senator Mark Kelly.

“Over and over my parents were told the testing was safe as our family stood on the front porch and watched in horror as the sky was filled with dust,” Bishop said. “While, at the time, we were encouraged to celebrate the advances of our government finding methods to protect U.S. citizens; unfortunately, we were blind to the fact that radioactive fallout would kill and sicken numerous members of our family. Regrettably the radioactive fallout not only impacted our family but families for hundreds of miles surrounding the test site.”

As the hearing concluded, Subcommittee Chairman Steve Cohen of Tennessee thanked Stanton for his “stalwart” leadership and bringing attention to this issue.

Full text of Stanton’s testimony as prepared is available 

Video of Stanton’s testimony is available here.

Video of Supervisor Bishop’s testimony is available here.

Full video of the hearing, witness list and supporting documents are available here.

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