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Radiation exposure victims deserve compensation

December 16, 2018

Thank you for the Los Alamos National Laboratory investigation by reporter Rebecca Moss, The New Mexican and ProPublica (“Exposed: The life and death of Chad Walde,” Oct. 26). What a powerful story.

It is heartbreaking to know what Chad Walde and his family have gone through and are still going through — unfortunately, because of his exposure to radiation and our government not holding itself and the laboratories accountable. This has been happening in our state for years.

The federal government failed to warn our people that they would be exposed to high levels of radiation due to the fallout from above-ground nuclear testing during the atomic bomb testing at the Trinity Site in 1945. We now have three generations of families who are struggling with cancer because of the effects of the Trinity test.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, gave a touching and compelling testimony in Washington, D.C., at the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 27. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., are co-sponsoring a bill to expand eligibility for payouts under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act of 1990 to the downwinders of New Mexico. This is long overdue, and our people of New Mexico have continued to suffer physically, emotionally and financially because of this huge injustice.

No one in New Mexico has been compensated, though people in Nevada, Arizona and Utah have been paid more than $2.25 billion. They receive a health care coverage card that entitles them to the best health care around with no copayments, deductibles or limits.

This kind of health coverage would save lives of the many people living with radiation-caused cancers in New Mexico. We must all stand up for truth and justice. We must all support the efforts of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium who are standing up for the unknowing, unwilling and uncompensated New Mexicans whose lives have forever been changed because of the effects of the Trinity test.

We also must support those New Mexicans who have been affected by radiation exposure through their government employment and contamination of natural resources because of the birth of the nuclear age in New Mexico.

Doris Vigil McBride is the president and chief executive officer of the Santa Fe Computer Supplies Inc.

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