Atomic Cleanup Veterans

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Atomic Cleanup Veterans are those who who participated in the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission in the Marshall Islands. Their original mission was to move radioactive fallout and debris from the surface of the islands of Enewetak Atoll to a 370 foot diameter concrete containment structure on Runit Island and to create a number of artificial reefs in the lagoon. The cleanup mission involved 2,033 participants, and 679 have signed the Atomic Cleanup Veterans Roster. 

Atomic Cleanup Vets was formed to connect atomic cleanup veterans, help share information, and provide moral support. Their secondary focus is to urge Congress to change the current laws and recognize soldiers of the cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.” As the law currently stands, cleanup veterans are not eligible for compensation set aside under Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for those who experience health complications due to radiation exposure. 

Current Projects

  • Atomic Cleanup Vets is engaged in advocacy on the following federal legislation: 
    • H.R.1377/S.555 – the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act. This bill would “provide for the treatment of veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll as radiation-exposed veterans for purposes of the presumption of service-connection of certain disabilities by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.” 
    • H.R. 3783 /S. 947, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019. This bill would extend RECA until 2045 (it is currently set to sunset in 2022), would expand coverage to clean up veterans, and would increase the amount of money atomic veterans are able to receive from $75,000 to $150,000. 
  • Atomic Cleanup Vets is working with the Marshallese Community to organize “Nuclear Remembrance Day” on Feb 28th – March 1st, 2020 in Springdale, AK, to raise awareness of the shared nuclear legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.  
  • Atomic Cleanup Vets works continuously to raise awareness on their issues. They pursue local, national, and even international media coverage, and have a Speakers Bureau, whose members often speak at public events and are available to request for events. 

Opportunities for Collaboration

  • Atomic Cleanup Vets would welcome support from other organizations on their Congressional advocacy on H.R.1377 and H.R. 3783, especially help making connections with key House and Senate offices in Washington, D.C. 
  • They also welcome opportunities to raise awareness of their work through media and speaking opportunities.
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