Order Code RS20967

Updated July 22, 2004





Radiation Compensation Programs:

Hotlines, websites and

Other Sources of Information


Gary K. Reynolds

Information Research Specialist

                                         Information Research Division




     The Congressional   Research (CRS)    receives   numerous    inquiries     about    both

Existing     and new    radiation           compensation programs for civilians   and   veterans.

Requestors are often not   sure which  compensation program  is  the correct  one   for  their

constituents.  This report lists and differentiates between the available programs serving

Nuclear test personnel, “downwinders,”   uranium miners, former Department of Energy

workers, veterans, and others.  It also lists   addresses, telephone   numbers, and     when

Available,  websites of organizations dealing with radiation exposure issues.  This report

Will be  updated as events warrant.




      The federal government provides compensation for civilians and veterans under three

Statutory programs.  The 1990  Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA, P.L. 101-

426) provides lump sum payments of up to $100,000 to on-site nuclear test participants,

civilians who lived downwind from the Nevada  test site (“downwinders”),   and uranium

Miners,   millers,  and ore   transporters.     Radiation-exposed veterans are    eligible   for

Disability   compensation    under the 1984  Veterans’ Dioxin  and   Radiation   Exposure

Compensation   Standards Act (P.L. 98-542) and the   1988 Radiation-Exposed Veterans’

Compensation Act (REVCA, P.L.  100-321).


     In 2000, congress passed legislation to establish a    compensation program for certain

Department of Energy (DOE) employees, contractors, and subcontractors;  employees of

Companies that provided beryllium to DOE; and employees of companies that processed

Radioactive materials used in the production of atomic weapons. 


The  federal   government   also  compensated one living  experimentee   and the families

of 11  now-deceased   experimentees who were injected with   plutonium   in government

funded human radiation experiments. 


 Congressional Research Service     The Library of Congress










Uranium Workers, Nuclear Test Participants, Downwinders


     Uranium Miners, Millers, and Ore Transporters (1942-1971); On-site Nuclear Test Participants (1945-1962); and Downwinders (1951-1958 or July 1962). 


Persons who have developed specified lung or kidney diseases or one of 19 types of cancer, and (1) were living in areas of Nevada, Arizona, or Utah downwind of nuclear test sites (eligible for a $50,000 payment), (2) were one-site nuclear test participants (eligible for a $75,000 payment), or (3) were uranium workers (eligible for a $100,000 payment), may obtain information regarding the criteria and claims process for applying for RECA lump-sum payments from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) website at [http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/torts/const/reca/index.htm]. Information also available by phone through DOJ’s Radiation Exposure Compensation Program at (800)729-7327 (9 a.m.-5 p.m. E.S.T., Monday-Friday).




     Atomic Veterans.  Individuals who were exposed to radiation while on active duty originally had to file for compensation under the strict terms of the Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act (P.L. 98-542).  This law required a difficult and costly reconstruction of each veteran’s estimated radiation dosage and few veterans were able to get compensation under this criteria.  In response to veterans’ complaints, Congress passed the Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act (REVCA) of 1988 (P.L. 100-321), which establishes a presumption of service connection for 21 specified cancers.  Under REVCA, no dosage reconstruction is required and veterans who participated in any of the three radiation-risk activities and have any one of the specified 21 cancers are presumed to have a service-connected condition and are eligible for compensation.


            The three radiation-risk activities were


·        Being an on-site nuclear test participant (approximately 210,000 veterans),

·        Serving among U.S. occupation troops at Hiroshima or Nagasaki in Japan (reportedly 195,000 veterans), or

·        Having been held as a POW in Japan.


Veterans exposed to radiation have special priority for enrollment for healthcare services.  They are also eligible to participate in the Veterans Administration’s (VA’s) Ionizing Radiation Registry and to request a complete physical and all necessary tests.  Veterans can get information on filing a claim for monthly disability compensation by calling the Veterans Administration Radiation Help Line at (800) 827-1000.

Atomic Workers


            DOE Employees, Contractors, and Subcontractors; Companies that Provided Beryllium to DOE; and Atomic Weapons Employees.

Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-398, Title XXXVI), DOE employees, contractors and subcontractors, beryllium workers, and atomic weapons workers, who suffer from beryllium disease, chronic silicosis, bone cancer, or one of the 19 cancers covered under RECA are eligible for a lump-sum payment of $150,000 and payment of future medical expenses.  People already receiving compensation under RECA or a VA radiation compensation program cannot receive payments under this act.  However, uranium miners who have received a $100,000 RECA payment are eligible for another $50,000 lump-sum payment and payment of future medical expenses.  The Department of Labor (DOL) began accepting claims for compensation under this program on July 31, 2001.


            Information is also available from DOE’s website at [http://www.ehdoe.gov/advocacy/] or by phone through its Office of Worker Advocacy at (877 447-9756.


            Information is also available from DOL’s website at [http://www.dol.gov] or by phone through the DOL Energy Employees Compensation Information Help Line at (866) 888-3322.


Human Radiation Experiments


            Background.  The President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, which was established by President Clinton’s Executive Order 12891 on January 15, 1994, reviewed about 4,000 government-sponsored human radiation experiments that took place between 1944 and 1974.  The committee found that most of the experiments involved minute amounts of radioactive tracers and were unlikely to do harm.   However, many of the research subjects either could not or did not give informed consent or had no knowledge that they were being exposed to radiation.  President Clinton apologized to all those who were experimented on in the name of the United States. (Remarks on Accepting the Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, October 3, 1995,  Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States:  William J. Clinton, 1995, Book II, pp. 1530-1532.)  Later a personal apology from then Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary and a settlement of $4.8 million was splint among the families of 11 people now deceased and one survivor who had been injected with plutonium.


            Exposed Citizens.

Citizens who may have been exposed during federally-funded radiation experiments may call the Department of Energy’s Human Radiation Experiment Hotline at (202) 586-8439.


Nuclear Tests


            Nuclear Test Personnel.  Persons who participated in nuclear tests during the period of 1945-1962, or who were with U.S. occupation forces in Hiroshima or Nagasaki from August 1945 to July 1, 1946 may call the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Nuclear Test Personnel Review Program at (800)-462-3683 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday).


Hanford Area Residents


            Hanford, WA, Residents.  Residents of Hanford, WA, who believe they may have been exposed or need information may call the Hanford Thyroid Disease Study at (800) 638-4837 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. PST, Monday-Friday).


Useful Publications


            The National Cancer Institute’s Study to Estimate Iodine (I-131) Doses from Nuclear Fallout and numerous items dealing with this report and thyroid cancer are available at the National Cancer Institute’s website at [http://rex.nci.nih.gov/INTRFCE_GIFS/WHTNEW_INTR_97.htm]


            The Department of Energy’s website containing the voluminous Fina lReport of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments is at [http://tis.eh.doe.gov/ohre/roadmap/achre/index.html].


            The Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet on Programs for Veterans Exposed to Radiation is at [http://www.va.gov/pressrel/99radpgm.htm].


            Several scholarly studies of veterans or civilians exposed to radiation can be found by searching the National Academy of Science’s National Academy Press Web page at [http://books.nap.edu/] and using the terms radiation and exposure and civilian or veteran.


Radiation-Oriented Organizations


            National Association of Atomic Veterans.  This group is looking for individuals who participated in atmospheric testing, were members of U.S. occupation forces in Japan (1945 or 1946), or were prisoners of war in Japan.  The association’s Web page is at [http://www.naav.com].


            National Association of Radiation Survivors.  This organization is interested in gathering information from participants or their relatives.  Call (800) 798-5102.


            Cancer Information Service.  This federal government service provides free material about cancer and its treatment from the National Cancer Institute website at [http://cis.nci.nih.gov/].  To speak to a cancer information specialist, call the Cancer Information Service at (800) 4-CANCER.


            Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF).  This is a Japanese organization, jointly funded by DOE and the Japanese government and located in Hiroshima, studying long-term effects of exposure to atomic bomb radiation since 1947, when its predecessor, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, was started by the United States.  RERF has a searchable website at [http://www.rerf.or.jp/].  It can be reached at international telephone number 011-82-261-3131.