Congressman Jim Matheson today announced the reintroduction of legislation that would protect American's health and safety in the event that nuclear weapons testing resumes at the Nevada National Security Site.
Matheson originally introduced the "Safety for Americans from Nuclear Weapons Testing Act" in 2004 after funds were appropriated to study development of two new types of nuclear weapons and to shorten the time needed for test site readiness. Congress has subsequently denied additional funding requests.
"Like thousands of Utah families, I am painfully aware of the federal government's failure to protect its citizens from the dangers of radioactive fallout created during atomic testing in Nevada," said Matheson. "The federal government said we were safe. The federal government knew we were at risk. I will not stand by and let the government take Utah families down that path again."
Matheson said that from 1951 until 1992, the U.S. government conducted over 1,000 nuclear weapons tests at the site. More than 800 bombs were detonated underground, yet some underground tests still released significant amount of radioactive fallout. A 1979 House subcommittee report--The Forgotten Guinea Pigs--concluded that "the only victims of U.S. nuclear arms since World War II have been our own people."
"Government studies clearly show past nuclear testing resulted in extensive radiation exposure throughout the country. We need much more accountability from the federal government before we even consider putting citizens at risk again," said Matheson.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) has been a consistent supporter of the anti-nuclear weapons testing effort. "We commend Rep. Jim Matheson for introducing the Safety for Americans from Nuclear Weapons Testing Act. Nuclear testing has no place in the 21st Century and should not be resumed without a full debate by Congress," said David Culp, Legislative Representative for FCNL.
Matheson's bill proposes the following:
* Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to resumption of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada or at another site;
* Congressional authorization for resumption of weapons testing;
* Public notification prior to any test--at least one week prior to the test being conducted;
* Independent radiation monitoring, with all data and reports made available to the public;
* Further isotopic studies, including dose estimates from The National Cancer Institute for person in the U.S. from all radionuclides produced by weapons tests. A report must be sent to Congress and made publicly available within three years of passage of this bill.
"I remember my father telling me about how people in southern Utah would watch the sky light up from the nuclear tests and how Utahns supported the program because they were patriots who believed in their county and trusted their government. Many untimely deaths later, we've learned to be skeptical of the government's safety claims regarding this issue," said Matheson.
Matheson's bill is also endorsed by Downwinders and Idaho Downwinders.