Proposed Radiation Compensation Act Amendments - SMSC: Chippewa Development
Udall Introduces RECA Amendments of 2010.
By Kathy Helms
Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent
WINDOW ROCK – Two decades after the 1990 passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., led a bipartisan group of senators Monday in introducing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2010, which would expand benefits for uranium workers and those downwind of atomic tests.
One of the most significant changes in the proposed legislation is the inclusion of post-1971 uranium workers among those eligible for compensation. In addition, compensation would be equalized for all claimants to $150,000, and $3 million would be authorized for five years to fund an epidemiological study of the health impacts on families of uranium workers and residents of uranium development communities.
Another major change is the recognition of radiation exposure from the Trinity Test Site at Alamogordo, N.M., where the first above-ground atomic weapon was tested.
Rather than just the few counties now covered, “downwind” areas would be expanded to include all of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana for the Nevada Test Site; New Mexico for the Trinity Test Site; and Guam for the Pacific tests.
Especially significant for Navajos would be allowing the use of affidavits to substantiate employment history, presence in an affected area, and work at a test site. Current legislation only allows miners to use affidavits. Claimants also would be allowed to combine work histories to meet the requirements for compensation.
“Uranium and weapons development of the Cold War era left a gruesome legacy in communities of mine workers and downwinders,” Udall said.
“For more than two decades, the United States has tried to compensate in some way for the resultant sickness and loss of life. Today we are taking the next step to close this sad chapter in history and to improve the reach of compassionate compensation to those Americans who have suffered, but have not qualified under RECA in its current form.”
Udall was joined in introducing the legislation by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Mark Udall, D-Colo., James Risch, R-Idaho, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. Companion legislation will be introduced in the House this week by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., 3rd District.
Bingaman, who worked on the original RECA law as well as the 2000 amendments, said the bill extends the life of the original compensation initiative, expands the list of compensable diseases, and makes it easier for claimants to prove their illnesses are related to their exposure to uranium.
“Enacting this bill would ensure that more Americans made sick during the Cold War finally get the compensation they deserve,” he said. “I'm particularly pleased that it recognizes Trinity Site downwinders who have suffered much, but who have never been compensated.”
Keith Killian of the Killian & Davis law firm in Grand Junction, Colo. – which was hired several years ago by the Navajo Nation to lobby for further amendments to RECA – couldn't be happier.
“This firm began working on these claims in early 1993. At that time, basically, it included miners and it had some pretty steep requirements. The amendments of 2000 helped, but this is the keeping of the promise that was begun in 1990,” he said.
“It's been a wonderful thing for me to be able to work on behalf of the Navajo Nation and the Navajo people. More than a third of the uranium came from the Navajo Nation, and more than a third of the disease and death that it caused came from the Navajo Nation. For them to put their confidence in my law firm and me to lobby this has been a great honor.”
The legislation not only will benefit the Navajo Nation, but every single miner, miller or family member that is still alive today that has endured the horror of being diagnosed with respiratory disease and cancer for their patriotism, he said.
The legacy of uranium mining still afflicts families and communities today, Lujan said. “It is critically important to ensure that these Americans are compensated for what they've endured. Senator Udall's legislation recognizes the many individuals who have been impacted but unable to receive compensation for their suffering. These Americans have waited long enough,” he said.
Killian agreed. “It's really a chance to put right what has been wrong for so many years. I can't see anybody in good conscience refusing to vote in favor of this.”
Red Lake Band Of Chippewa Receives $4 Million For Economic Development
by Tessa Lehto - firstname.lastname@example.org
Prior Lake, MN – A number of economic enterprises as well as a health care center and a youth center will be funded by a $3 million Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community loan and a $1 million grant to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.
“We appreciate that the Red Lake Tribal Council wants to make life better for its members. By helping fund economic development and other projects, we can help them grow their economy to better serve the needs of their members,” said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks.
The Loan: The $3 million loan will fund construction and start up costs for Red Lake Nation Propane, a convenience store at Thief River Falls at the Seven Clans Casino, and a convenience store in the town of Red Lake. The Red Lake Store will have a car wash, with a future car wash planned for the Seven Clans location. Gas and convenience goods will be available at both stores, but what is unique about these properties is that they will also sell fresh Red Lake walleye and Red Lake Nation foods products such as jellies, jams, and wild rice.
Red Lake Nation Propane was established in 2009 and will be in full operation in 2010. The propane company will offer competitive prices on fuel and policies more friendly to band members. It has its own delivery trucks, tanks, and the capability to service all areas of the reservation and surrounding communities.
“We are extremely excited about having our own propane company,” said Chairman Buck Jourdain in the State of the Nation address February 26, 2010.
Each of these enterprises will also provide new jobs.
The Grant: The $1 million grant will be divided to support two projects: $750,000 for a community facility to house a Boys & Girls Club at Ponemah and $250,000 for renovations and equipment at the Jourdain Perpich Extended Care Center.
“A brand new community complex with full gymnasium is scheduled for groundbreaking in Ponemah this spring. The facility will house the Boys and Girls Club of Ponemah, and in Phase 2, the Head Start, and the Community Center,” said Chairman Jourdain. “If all goes according to plan, by year’s end, Phase 1 of this community complex will be a reality.”
The $750,000 grant will help cover the cost of building the gymnasium, restrooms, lobby, and mechanical and electrical room at the community facility. In 2006 the SMSC helped fund a similar facility with a $1 million grant to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa for a Boys & Girls Club in the town of Red Lake.
“The youth are the best hope for their nation’s future. Boys & Girls Clubs provides a valuable service, and we're pleased we have the resources to reach out and help Red Lake, especially this program for the youth,” said Chairman Crooks.
The Jourdain Perpich Extended Care Center will receive $250,000 to continue providing a safe, comfortable home for American Indians who need long term medical or skilled nursing care and short-term rehabilitation services. The facility is located on the southern shore of Red Lake on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and attached to the Red Lake Hospital which enables residents to have access to 24 hour emergency care. It is equipped to provide around the clock care for up to 47 residents and has 37 full time and 72 part time employees.
Since opening in 1989, the facility has not had any renovations. The grant will cover new beds, a bathtub with a lift, windows, doors, a nurse call system, lighting fixtures, a floor scrubbing machine, propane vaporizer, lift equipment including bariatric/stand up lifts, cabinets, tables, chairs, and more.
Background - In fiscal year 2009 the SMSC made a loan for $31 million to Red Lake to fund construction of a new Red Lake Seven Clans Casino and Hotel, a tribal law enforcement center, and a greenhouse.
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