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Public Papers - 1990

Statement on Signing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

1990-10-15

I am today signing into law H.R. 2372, the ``Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.'' This bill establishes new entitlement programs for persons physically present in areas near the Nevada Nuclear Test Site during atomic testing at the site.

Atmospheric testing of atomic devices -- important to national security during the darkest days of the ``cold war'' -- ended in 1963 when, under President Kennedy, the United States signed and ratified the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Prior to the Treaty, the United States detonated over 200 atomic devices in the open air, in both the South Pacific and in Nevada.

The bill provides compassionate payments to persons with specified diseases who fear that their health was harmed because of fallout from atmospheric atomic testing at the Nevada test site, regardless of whether causation can be scientifically established. The bill entitles each person meeting specific criteria to a payment of ,000. Uranium miners meeting separate criteria will be entitled to compassionate payments in the amount of 0,000. These payments fairly resolve the claims of persons present at the test site and of downwind residents, as well as claims of uranium miners.

The bill, which is fiscally responsible, establishes a trust fund, and 0,000,000 is authorized to be appropriated to be paid into the fund.

H.R. 2372 is the result of close cooperation between the Administration and the Congress. As a result of the Administration's initial concerns, many earlier objections have been addressed, and the bill has been vastly improved. This legislation establishes a compensation system in the executive branch that can be administered efficiently and permit eligible claimants to receive compensation without the expense and delay of traditional litigation.

George Bush

The White House,

October 15, 1990.

Note: H.R. 2372, approved October 15, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 426.

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