RECA Act Provides Compensation for Illnesses Due to Cold War-Era Radiation Exposure

Uranium miners, uranium mill workers and ore transporters who have sustained radiation related illnesses are eligible to receive compensation under the <"">Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA. RECA was adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1990, and amended in 2000 to include uranium mill and ore workers to the list of individuals eligible for compensation. It also applies to anyone who lived downwind from nuclear test sites or worked onsite during nuclear testing in geographical areas covered by the act, who also sustained radiation related illnesses.

RECA offers an apology and monetary compensation to individuals who contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases following their exposure to radiation released during above-ground atmospheric nuclear weapons tests or, following their occupational exposure to radiation while employed in the uranium industry during the build-up to the Cold War.

A total of 27 radiation related illnesses are covered by RECA. Uranium miners, uranium mill workers, and ore transporters with a covered illness are eligible to receive a $100,000 lump sum payment under RECA. They must have been employed in aboveground or underground uranium mines or uranium mills in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas at any time during the period beginning on January 1, 1942, and ending on December 31, 1971.

Uranium miners must have been exposed to 40 or more working level months (WLMs) of radiation while employed in a uranium mine or worked for at least one year in a uranium mine during the relevant time period. Uranium mill workers and ore transporters must have worked in a uranium mill for at least one year during the relevant time period.

Under RECA, claimants are not required to prove that their exposure to radioactive materials caused their disease. Rather, a claimant qualifies for an award by establishing the diagnosis of a listed compensable disease after working or residing in a designated location for a specific period of time.

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