New Mexico was ground zero for the world's first atom bomb explosion, but the “downwinder” farmers and ranchers living near the Trinity test site, and the Navajo miners who dug the uranium used in the blast, have once again been shut out for fallout compensation by Congress.
The Senate and House Armed Services Committees' voluminous conference report released Thursday on the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act stripped out an amendment that would have for the first time included eligible New Mexicans for relief under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA.
The amendment to extend and expand RECA coverage will now sunset in 2024 unless the House and Senate find time to reverse course, which is considered unlikely given the current congressional impasse over Ukraine and Israel aid, and southern border security issues.
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For RECA advocates in New Mexico, the failure of Congress to include the amendment in the NDAA fit a pattern of neglect and deceit by their government going back generations during the development of nuclear weapons.
The lying began just hours after the Manhattan Project device called the “gadget,” assembled atop a 100-foot tower in the Tularosa Basin by J. Robert Oppenheimer and his band of fractious scientists, went off in the early morning of July 16, 1945, in a blinding fireball that lit up…