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Nuclear Weapons Testing & Compensation for 'Downwinders'

When Ben learned about recent high-level meetings within the administration on resuming explosive nuclear weapons testing, it rang alarm bells. Thousands of Utahns are still dealing with illness and death from exposure to radioactive fallout from bombs exploded in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The stories we hear from ‘Downwinders’–from people still grieving for family members lost, often as children, to cancer– motivates Ben to hold the government accountable and to stop any new explosive nuclear weapons testing.

Ben passed amendments in annual defense bills to prohibit funding for conducting or preparing for any explosive nuclear weapons test. A move to restart testing is dangerous and unnecessary. Over the past two decades, the Defense and Energy secretaries in both Republican and Democratic administrations have annually certified that the U.S. stockpile is effective and secure. Ben also signed onto the PLANET Act which would prohibit any previous year’s funds from being used to restart explosive testing. He’ll keep fighting until the funding ban becomes law. We must never go down that path again.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (RECA) provided money to some, but not all Utahns who are Downwinders, uranium miners, millers and ore transporters harmed by the federal government’s deceit. The RECA Trust Fund to pay those claims is set to expire in 2022. Ben has signed onto legislation to extend the life of the RECA Trust Fund to 2045 and to expand coverage to all Utah counties as well 11 other states. It also fixes a gap that treats some members of the Navajo nation who worked in the uranium industry unfairly.

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