WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) issued the following statement after President Biden endorsed Senator Hawley’s legislation to compensate victims of government-caused nuclear contamination originating from the Manhattan Project. Senator Hawley’s legislation was adopted by the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in July. The legislation was introduced with support from Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
Senator Hawley said: “Compensating victims of government-caused nuclear contamination and negligence should not be a partisan issue. It’s about justice. I am glad President Biden has announced his support of our amendment, but now we need action. This amendment must be included in the final negotiated defense bill that the President signs into law. And we also must hear from the Biden Administration about their next steps to support victims in the St. Louis area and beyond.”
Senator Hawley has consistently advocated on behalf of the Coldwater Creek community and all Missourians impacted by government-caused nuclear contamination.
On July 27, 2023, in a strong bipartisan vote, Senator Hawley secured passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would provide compensation to victims of government-caused nuclear contamination. The legislation extends the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to cover victims of improperly-stored nuclear waste in affected areas in the St. Louis region. The measure—which was cosponsored by Senators Ben Ray Luján and Mike Crapo—also reauthorized and strengthened the RECA program to cover more impacted Americans from nuclear tests along with uranium miners.
Earlier in July, Senator Hawley sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE), urging additional testing for radioactive contamination at a site in St. Charles County, Mo., after a review of the Weldon Spring site in 2021 offered an extensive critique of the DOE's cleanup and monitoring efforts there. Senator Hawley also sent a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman, Senator Joe Manchin, urging him to convene a committee hearing to discuss the government-caused nuclear contamination of the St. Louis area. In addition, Senator Hawley penned separate letters to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), DOE, and Environmental Protection Agency, demanding answers from the government about the nuclear contamination.
In April, Senator Hawley's legislation mandating the clean up of Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District and radioactive waste testing passed the U.S. Senate and Biden's Energy Secretary Granholm also vowed to support it.
Earlier in the year, Senator Hawley delivered remarks on the Senate floor, called out the Biden Administration for its lack of action, and pushed the DOE for answers on the radioactive waste found at the school. Senator Hawley also worked with Congresswoman Cori Bush to send a letter to USACE, calling for additional radioactive testing of the Hazelwood School District properties after demanding last October that USACE conduct radioactive testing at Jana Elementary in light of reported contamination. Following the initial reporting, Senator Hawley called on President Biden to declare a federal emergency and make aid available for impacted students and families.