Over the course of four decades, the United States Department of Energy conducted nuclear weapons testing. Sadly, the radioactive fallout from these detonations has impacted the health and welfare of people working directly in the site or living downwind of it. In this blog, we will discuss the purpose of the nuclear weapons testing, what fallout has done, and how downwinders can file claims for financial compensation.
What Was the Purpose of The Nevada Test Site?
Between 1951 and 1992, the United States government conducted nuclear weapons testing both in the atmosphere and underground. Atmospheric (in the air) testing ceased in 1962, but underground detonations of atomic bombs continued at the Nevada Test Site, a 1,350 square mile area just 60 miles away from the entertainment capital of the United States–Las Vegas, Nevada.
How Much Radioactive Fallout Has The Site Produced?
Early on in the days of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada and other states, little was known about the health and environmental impact radioactive fallout could have. In fact, people living downwind of the Nevada Test Site and other sites were known to watch the dramatic explosions from hotel windows and picnic areas without any need for concern over their own health and welfare.
Over time, however, it became noticeable that military personnel (now called atomic veterans) and workers in the testing areas and even further away–or downwind as it is called–were falling ill. They began to see leukemia, serious birth defects in their children and even radiation sickness similar to that suffered in Japan after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings which ended World War II. Radioactive fallout from these tests impact people at the cellular level, and in fact, may adversely change the DNA in someone’s unique genetic make-up.
It has been estimated that the people, animals, water, soil, and natural habitats of the nuclear weapons test site were exposed to radioactive fallout 20 times as great as that released by the failed nuclear reactor site in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the late twentieth century. Accordingly, much evidence links this fallout to thyroid, breast, ovarian and digestive cancers, as well as leukemia, lymphoma and more.
How Were Downwinders Exposed to Radioactive Fallout?
Radioactive fallout consists of particles which directly contact the skin. They can be also inhaled from the air, or ingested through contaminated food sources. Radioactive fallout is known to spread in a wide radius from original detonation sites.
Contaminated food sources could include:
- Meat from cattle raised in contaminated farms or ranch lands
- Milk from cows who fed on grass contaminated with radioactive fallout particles
- Fruits and vegetables grown in soil containing fallout
Specifically, the particles spread by the atomic weapons detonations at the Nevada Testing Site contained iodine 131, or I-131, a common radioactive isotope which could have both short term and long-term adverse health effects. As such, I-131 is considered the primary cause for the development of thyroid cancers in exposed downwinders as early as their childhoods.
Additionally, strontium-90 is another radioactive isotope that may be responsible for the development of leukemia.
How The National Cancer Benefits Center-Downwinders Can Help
In 1990, the United States Congress enacted the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) which compensates soldiers, mine workers and others, along with their families if qualified, with large lump sum payments. These monetary awards provide the US government with an opportunity to share a degree of culpability in the numerous cases of cancer and other serious health problems which have developed in downwinders in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and other states.
If you would like to know more about RECA and to see if you or your family may qualify for compensation as downwinders, please contact the National Cancer Benefit Center–Downwinders. Our friendly team is highly knowledgeable in every aspect of the claims process and would be happy to help guide you through it.
Call us at 1-855-631-7197 or begin your Radiation Exposure Compensation Claim here. We are here to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.