The goal of any company who works with or around radioactive materials is to keep its workers safe. Or at least that should be the goal. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Sometimes those accidents are very big ones, like the nuclear accident involving Fukushima’s reactors after the March 2011 earthquake. In other cases, radiation exposure occurs through carelessness over an extended period of time, as can happen for those who work in the mining industry.
Last month, we published an article outlining the signs of radiation sickness and potential treatments. This month, we’ll follow up with information regarding the Radiation Exposure Compensation program, which is designed to provide some level of financial compensation to those who are victims of specific radiation poisoning scenarios.
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA)
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was put into action on October 5th, 1990 – although there have been updates and modifications since then. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the act was established to establish, “…an administrative program for claims relating to atmospheric nuclear testing and claims relating to uranium industry employment. The Act delegated authority to the Attorney General to establish procedures and make determinations regarding whether claims satisfy statutory eligibility criteria.” In other words, unless your particular radiation sickness is linked to atmospheric nuclear testing or the uranium industry, you may not be eligible for funding through this particular act.
Between the years 1945 and 1962, the US Government conducted frequent nuclear weapons testing, affecting the lives of those on, near and downwind from test sites – the large majority of which were located in the barren deserts of Nevada. Those employed in the uranium mining industry were also at risk, especially those who worked between 1943 and 1971, since they were not provided adequate disclosure about – or protection from – harmful levels of radiation.
Even so, legislative acts like this one can help to support your case against an industry, company, or employer should you feel you were not educated, informed and/or protected from damaging ionizing radiation.
Three Types of RECA Compensation
The complete effects of ionizing radiation poisoning often last a lifetime, and can be fatal. Thus, there is no amount of compensation available to erase the long-lasting effects from this type of illness. Even so, it does help individuals and families to cope with the after effects of radiation poisoning.
Those eligible for this financial compensation are divided into three groups. If individuals from any of these groups can link their illness to proximity and/or employment pertaining to the aforementioned causes, they may be entitled to lump sum compensation.
These groups are:
- Those who worked as uranium miners, millers or transporters ($100,000). This includes individuals employed in the uranium industry in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
- Those who qualify as “onsite participants” at designated atmospheric nuclear weapons testing sites ($75,000).
- Individuals who lived downwind of the Nevada test sites, or “downwinders,” ($50,000). This designation also encompasses those who lived in large swatches of both Arizona and Utah as well.
Feel You Qualify For Lump Sum Compensation Through RECA?
There are several things you can do if you feel you or someone you know may qualify for compensation under RECA.
First, seek medical attention if you have not done so already. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds screening clinics in the wide majority of states affected by the uranium industry and/or nuclear weapons testing. Visit their website to Find a Screening Clinic near you.
Second, you can provide valuable information about RECA and radiation exposure-related illness(es) to your healthcare provider. Share these Clinical Guidelines with him or her and be prepared to share your working experience. This can help to determine whether or not your particular symptoms and/or illnesses qualified.
If you worked in the nuclear weapons industry, and feel radiation exposure has taken a toll on your health and wellbeing, you may also want to look into the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), which was similarly created to compensate workers who were injured or became ill on the job. In certain circumstances, compensation is provided to spouses, survivors and family members as well.
Protect Yourself From Unhealthy Radiation Exposure and Illness
Fortunately, increased education and innovative solutions have made it possible for humans to work in a radioactive environment, or around radioactive materials, without having to compromise their physical health. Lancs Industries is a leader in radiation shielding products and solutions. Visit our website or please contact us directly to learn more about the products that will make safety a priority in your radioactive workspace.
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