Nuclear compensation for NM removed from defense bill


An amendment that would have reauthorized and extended compensation to New Mexico’s victims of nuclear radiation was removed from the annual National Defense Authorization Act, released last night.

“The NDAA fails to provide justice for New Mexicans who sacrificed for our national security,” US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, one of the sponsors of the amendment to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, says in a statement. Luján has introduced RECA legislation in every Congress since he was first elected to the US House in 2008.

“Generations of New Mexicans and their families have gotten sick and died from the radiation exposure and the lasting impacts of the Trinity Test. For New Mexico to have been ground zero for the first nuclear weapon—and left out of the original RECA program—is an injustice.” 

Tina Cordova, founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, whose quest to bring justice to the Trinity Test downwinder victims and Native American uranium miners is highlighted in the new film First We Bombed New Mexico, said in a statement:

“People all across the American West and Guam who were horribly harmed when our country went about its reckless testing of nuclear weapons are devastated to again be left without assistance. Certain members of Congress care nothing about the people who’ve been dying for 78 years without assistance. They see nothing wrong with looking away from our basic human right to appropriate health care. While our defense budget continues to grow unabashedly, we are left to hold bake sales, garage sales and sell livestock to meet our growing health care expenses when we are sick and dying. Shame on them for taking this position.”