IN FOCUS Discussion: Funding for Downwinders

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – According to the University of Utah Health, a “downwinder” is a person who was exposed or presumed to be exposed to radiation from the explosion of nuclear devices at the federal Nevada Test Site. These nuclear tests took place in the 1950s and 1960s.

The radioactive materials released by these tests are called “fallout.” Winds carried the fallout hundreds of miles away from the test site. People living in the downwind area at the time of testing were exposed to varying levels of radiation. We now know that exposure to radioactive fallout may lead to certain types of cancer.

Mary Dickson, who is a downwinder that grew up in Salt Lake City, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about the personal impact the nuclear testing had on her life and those around her. She now advocates for U.S. radioactive fallout victims as her life’s work — writing plays, stories, articles, and even gave a speech in Japan about her experiences.

Former U.S. Representative Jim Matheson shared how his family was impacted by the nuclear testing, the fight at the federal level to get compensation for downwinders, and whether he has concerns that this issue will be lost with time with a small number of survivors remaining.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is set to expire next year. But there is a new piece of legislation to extend and expand the compensation for people who were exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the 1950s. Policy Analyst Steve Erickson discussed the nuts and bolts of RECA, whether he felt that past compensation has been adequate, and what he hopes to see with future legislation.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Dickson, Matheson, and Erickson, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie_Nguyen
Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

ABC4 PODCASTS

More Podcasts
Inside Utah Politics Logo

Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...