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Attorney General Approves Regulations Revising
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Requirements

Revised Regulations Expected to Provide Access to Larger Numbers of Individuals

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Attorney General has approved changes to the regulations implementing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to cover greater numbers of radiation-exposed individuals, the Department of Justice announced today. Most significantly, the new regulations modify the definition of "non-smoker" to include individuals who formerly smoked, but stopped at least 15 years prior to the diagnosis of a compensable disease.

The program, administered by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, compensates qualified people for the effects of radiation exposure. The newly revised regulations represent a joint effort between the Department and affected communities.

Congress created the RECA program in 1990 as a non-adversarial, inexpensive, and efficient system to provide compensation to individuals who contracted certain serious diseases presumed to have resulted from exposure to radiation released during above-ground nuclear weapons tests or during employment in uranium mines. The program generally covers activities from 1947 to 1971, and since its inception has adjudicated approximately 7,000 claims and awarded nearly $230 million in compensation.

Other changes to the regulations will allow individuals who file a claim for compensation to submit affidavits establishing their smoking and alcohol use histories where no other records exist and, under the Uranium Miner provisions, pathology reports will now be accepted as evidence of disease.

Other changes, more technical in nature, will also serve to assist claimants in establishing entitlement to an award. For example, the measurement of pulmonary impairment to establish a respiratory disease has been liberalized consistent with current science. Further, the list of covered conditions has been amended to include "in situ," or early, phase lung cancers. Finally, the revised regulations permit individuals who had claims denied prior to the implementation of these regulations to file up to three times.

These regulations will apply to all pending RECA claims after publication in the Federal Register. Beginning in the spring of this year, members of the RECA Program will visit various communities in the southwest United States to fully explain the new rules. For information about the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program, call 1-800-729-RECP.