MONTGOMERY, AL - Attorney General Troy King held a news conference to inform veterans and family members of benefits available to compensate for certain illnesses that may have been caused by radiation exposure from the development and testing of nuclear weapons.
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Program is administered through the U.S. Department of Justice.
During World War II and continuing through 1962, the United States conducted nearly 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests to bring about a conclusion to the war and while building the arsenal that became the cornerstone of the nation's Cold War security strategy. Essential to the development of nuclear weapons was the mining and processing of uranium ore, conducted by tens of thousands of workers.
"Unfortunately, these tests did not come without a cost to the veterans and workers who bravely served our nation," said Attorney General King. "But many veterans and their families may not be aware that federal law provides partial restitution to the individuals who developed serious illnesses after exposure to radiation released during atmospheric nuclear tests or after employment in the uranium industry."
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Program serves 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.
Veterans are not required to prove that their cancer was caused by this radiation exposure. Instead, all they have to do is prove that they were diagnosed with one of the diseases on the list of compensable diseases after working or residing in a designated location for a specific period of time.
The program provides lump sum compensation awards for individuals who contracted specified diseases in three defined populations: individuals present at atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, who receive $75,000; uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters, who receive $100,000; and individuals who lived downwind of the Nevada Test Site, who receive $50,000.
Acceptance of this compensation does not affect Veterans Administration benefits. However, if a veteran is receiving medical payments specifically related to one of the qualifying diseases, that veteran's lump sum award might be reduced by the amount of payments already received.
"Sadly, many of the veterans who bravely served our nation during this period are no longer with us, but their family members are still eligible to receive this compensation," said Attorney General King. "Family members include spouses, children, or next of kin. If you qualify for this program, then I encourage you to quickly apply for this compensation. If you know of any veterans or families of veterans who are not aware of this program, please spread the word."