Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley's (R-Mo.) legislation to compensate victims of government-caused nuclear contamination in the greater St. Louis area was adopted by the U.S. Senate. The legislation took the form of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Hawley's legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
"For fifty years, fifty years the federal government has put into the water, into the soil, into the air of St. Louis and surrounding regions radioactive nuclear material,"said Senator Hawley. "They have not told the people of St. Louis. They have not compensated the people of St. Louis. They have not helped the people of St. Louis."
He continued, "Mr. President, it is time to make this right. The amendment we are about to vote on is a very simple amendment—it is about basic justice—compensating the victims of the federal government's negligence for what the government itself has done."
HUGE WIN today for Missouri in the Senate. We just adopted my proposal to compensate the victims of the federal government’s radioactive waste all across the St. Louis region. Big step forward for JUSTICE - now needs to pass the House - more to come— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 27, 2023
Senator Schmitt said, "It’s unconscionable that this radioactive waste was allowed to be recklessly dumped around the St. Louis area, and the ones paying for it the most are innocent St. Louis families. I grew up in Bridgeton, at the epicenter of this issue, and this is near and dear to my heart. The federal government has an obligation to keep Americans safe, and the pure negligence that has harmed St. Louisans has been brushed aside and covered up for far too long. I’m proud to co-sponsor Senator Hawley’s amendment in order to ensure this disaster is rectified and radiation victims in St. Louis are taken care of."
Senator Hawley's legislation will:
- Extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to cover victims of improperly stored Manhattan Project waste in the St. Louis region.
- Provide RECA compensation to those living in particular geographic areas who suffer from diseases associated with long-term exposure to radiation.
- Help make right a government-caused environmental and health disaster that has impacted Missourians over the last 80 years.
View the full legislative text here.
Senator Hawley has consistently advocated on behalf of the Coldwater Creek community and all Missourians impacted by government-caused nuclear contamination.
Most recently, 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.
This month, Senator Hawley 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. He also sent 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 School 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.