Trinity Downwinders: 75 Years And Waiting
Now Before Congress: Bills to Extend and Expand RECA to New Mexico Downwinders and Post-1971 Uranium Workers.
On Wednesday, September 22, 2021,
under the bipartisan leadership of
Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico
and Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho,
Senate Bill 2798 was introduced to extend
and expand RECA to finally include New Mexico. (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act).
Senator Lujan continues to challenge why RECA covers people in certain counties, but not “the community where the first nuclear bomb was tested on American soil. There’s not been a good answer given to me nor to the Downwinders in New Mexico. There’s no question of the exposure that resulted from the Trinity test.”
Senator Lujan said, “For over a decade, I’ve been fighting alongside impacted communities to extend and expand RECA. This is about justice and doing what’s right, and there’s no time to waste.”
On the same day, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez representing the Third Congressional District of New Mexico introduced the RECA companion bill, H.R. 5338, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Leger Fernandez is also a New Mexico Downwinder.
HOW TO REACH YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND THE GOVERNOR:
Senator Ben Ray Lujan: (202)224-6621 www.lujan.senate.gov
Address: 498 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Senator Martin Heinrich: (202)224-5521 www.heinrich.senate.gov
303 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez: (202)225-6190 https://fernandez.house.gov/
1432 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Melanie Stansbury: (202)225-6316 https://stansbury.house.gov
1421 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Yvette Herrell: (202)225-2365 https://herrell.house.gov
1305 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
HOWEVER YOU CONTACT THEM: Remember to tell them you support the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium and our efforts to amend the Radiation Exposure
SHARE YOUR OWN HISTORY: Tell them about what has happened to you and/or
your family since the overexposure to radiation received from the Trinity test and
what it has meant to be ignored for the past 76 years.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS INFORMATION with your family and friends from
throughout New Mexico and other parts of the country.
We need everyone from every state to contact their members of Congress. The
original RECA bill will end in 2022 so we only have a year left to get this done.
Go to our website for more information: www.trinitydownwinders.com
Locate members of Congress from other states:
Contact Gov. Lujan Grisham and let her know you support our efforts
Address: 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Room 400 Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tina Cordova was featured in National Geographic! Click HERE to read it.
Race and the Environment in America, an article by Axios. Click HERE to view.
Watch the Hearing with the House Judiciary Committee below, which occurred 3/24/21. Click HERE to visit the website. Click HERE to read the Santa Fe New Mexican article written about the hearing. See Hearing below:
DID YOU KNOW
There were families living as close as 12 miles to the Trinity test site in 1945 and there were Thousands of families living in a 50 mile radius.
The bomb was a plutonium based bomb and it was packed with 13 pounds of weapons grade plutonium but only 3 pounds of the plutonium fissioned. The remaining 10 pounds of plutonium was joined with the soil, sand, animal and plant life and incinerated. The resultant fireball exceeded the atmosphere and penetrated the stratosphere traveling more than 7 miles high.
The bomb produced more heat and more light than the sun. Many people who we’ve spoken to that were alive at the time thought they were experiencing the end of the world.
Plutonium has a half life of more than 24,000 years. Once the radioactive ash fell from the sky as fallout it settled on everything on the soil, in the water and on the skin of every living thing both human and animal.
In 1945 most if not all the small villages inside a 50 mile radius of the Trinity Site had no running water. The water sources at the time were cisterns, holding ponds or ditches. As a result of the fallout the water sources were contaminated.
In 1945 there were no grocery stores in the small villages surrounding the Trinity site. All the meat, dairy and produce people consumed was either raised, harvested or grown by them. It too was contaminated.
As a result of the overexposure to radiation, there was an increase in infant mortality in the months following the Trinity test in New Mexico. The National average death rate was 38.3 deaths per thousand live births, and the average in New Mexico was 100.8 deaths per thousand, which was the highest in the nation. A paper that addresses this issue, was published by Tucker/Alvarez in 2019, titled Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”, which you can access here.
Since 1990 the US Government has been compensating “Downwinders” who lived adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. The fund set up to extend compensation and medical care is called the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The Downwinders in New Mexico have never been included or compensated although they were the first people to be exposed to radiation any place in the world. New Mexicans were also downwind of the Nevada test site through the summer of 1962, well documented.
The fund has paid out more than 2.3 billion dollars in claims and provides much needed health care coverage to some claimants. The health care coverage portion, if extended to the people of New Mexico, would save lives and reduce the financial burden to patients and families as they travel from their rural communities to receive treatment.
The TBDC is fighting for the same compensation that other Downwinders receive, and for the health care coverage to be extended to all Downwinders. We often say we don’t want one dime more or one dime less than what other Downwinders are receiving and have received for over 30 years.
On June 27, 2018, a representative of the TBDC testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the need to amend the RECA in order to compensate the New Mexico Downwinders. The testimony is available here. The hearing begins at 20 minutes. Tina Cordova, co-founder of TBDC, begins her testimony at 1:02:20.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC PLACES DOWNWINDERS AT GREATER THAN NORMAL RISK
Members of the TBDC Steering Committee have completed a letter to the US Congressional Leadership requesting that they add the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments in House Bill, HR 3783 to any of the upcoming COVID-19 relief bills under consideration. Over 120 organizations from all across the country, Canada, Guam and the Pacific Islands have signed onto the letter in support. Please see the full letter here.