International Meeting
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Denise Nelson
Support and Education for Radiation
Victims/Utah Downwinder of the Nevada Test Site

Reference Paper
The 1990 Radiation Exposed Compensation bill was never intended to cover medical expenses. The one time payment of $50,000 does not cover major hospital stays, diagnostic tests and treatment. There is no specific program where exposed can receive check ups or medical exams. All the medical expenses are carried by the victims themselves or their individual insurance companies which are most often provided for by their employers. This coverage seldom lasts beyond the employment/work period however and this leaves many injured to fend for themselves and remain without healthcare assistance.

Often sick people loose their jobs and health insurance when they become incapacitated. The situation is dismal. Many Downwinders do not even seek healthcare when they realize they are sick, since they can not afford to pay for it. Therefor they die much quicker than other people who receive assistance. There is no radiation exposure related living support or health care allowance.

The word Compensation itself is badly chosen since no life can be "compensated" for. "Retribution" would be a better name for what should have been done, but $50,000 can never be seriously called retribution either.

Also, it is very important to understand that in a country where there is NO socialized health care system in place, the victims carry all the financial burden of their illness. The contaminator, the US Government, therefor does not have to pay for the actual cost of the damage done to the people. In any such situation whereby the financial and physical burden can be completely shifted to the people there is no incentive for a Government to protect its people from harm.

The Compensation Bill was therefore entirely a political move to allow the Government to be able to say that they "have dealt with this and therefor the issue is closed." Whenever someone tries to point to the weaknesses and unfairness of the bill, Government uses the "issue is closed" statement. Government also does not make it easy for people to find out about this bill. Many of those who could apply for the compensation do not even know this legislation exists. This is one of the main reasons why Dennis and I started SERV (Support and Education for Radiation Victims), to get the word out, without taking financial advantage of the victims, like many lawyers have done over the years. There are over 200,000 Atomic Veterans, at least 20,000 Downwinders, several thousand Uranium miners and numerous other Nevada test site workers who fall under the compensation bill. SERV and Downwinders Inc. have literally spread compensation information to thousands of victims. Unfortunately only a few thousand people have received compensation and many, even once they apply, are turned down.

Yes, indeed the wording of the compensation bill includes an apology which basically states that the affected were exposed in the interest of National Security and that the US Government apologizes to those adversely affected by the Nuclear Bomb test program. However to receive the money the victim has to sign a paper indemnifying the US Government of all responsibility and further judicial process. Many Victims call it "Blood money" and refuse to apply for Compensation because they do not feel it is right to let the Government deny anyone who has been victimized to take away their right to take legal action against their victimizers. Also people's pride and patriotism often prevent them from applying for the money. Many people still believe their Government would not hurt them, even though they are dying prematurely of radiation induced cancers. The wording of the bill is vague, so that it does not clearly identify and link the cause of the cancers to the actions of the Military and the Atomic energy Commission. Since there was no mentioning of the actual culprits, cold war criminals, and connected medical experiments it seems like the bill was just another effort to keep health effects secret, the truth buried and the cold blooded deeds of Government from ever being exposed.

If a person has died the compensation money is paid either to the surviving spouse, child, grandchild or parent, but not to a sibling. For example my sister-in-law was not married, her parents were killed by fallout and her grandparents had died long ago, so in her case no-one can apply for compensation. The cancer patients who are still alive can apply themselves but are often dead by the time the application gets approved which may take up to three years.

As one can clearly see the "Compensation" money is almost an insulting low amount, considering that the US Government is planning to spend over a billion dollars on ONE weapons experiment a month alone and is studying the feasibility of restarting nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site, creating new future victims. Obviously the human cost is not of concern.

The bill does not take into consideration the actual value of life years lost, potential earnings, medical expenses, family suffering, and reimbursement of all the costs related to raising children without a mother or father. The Compensation bill was created to silence the cries of the affected and to make politicians look like they were sympathetic. Unfortunately this legislation has absolutely no realistic and fair foundation. It treats fallout as if it stops at the borders of certain counties, it treats the victims like a disposable, replaceable item, and it has unrealistic resident requirements. It excludes high fallout towns and people who were not permanent residents of the compensatable counties. It disregards second generation effects completely and does not include any other radiogenic disease besides cancer. The total lack of a nationwide information outreach program shows clearly that the US Government still hides the American Hibakusha in its closet. The continuing statements by Government Employees that Radiation is harmless and that Nuclear weapons are necessary, is a clear indication that Nevada Downwinders, Atomic Veterans, Uranium Miners, and millions of Radiation exposed have yet to be heard! Their voices shall NOT be silenced, even in death the truth shall be heard.

Greetings to all the good people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and my sincere thanks to Gensikyo for embracing the American Hibakusha. It is truly the quest for the truth which has brought us together and hopefully we will meet again someday soon.

To the 2001 Wolrd Conference against A & H Bombs