On-site participants are those individuals who were in the military and were present for a test of a nuclear weapon. Most of these claims were in the military, but some civilians were also present as employees of the Department of Defense. Those civilian employees also receive compensation.
The compensation available to those who can show that they were present during a nuclear weapons test and can show that they later developed certain types of cancer is $75,000 through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).
It is important to note that on-site participants, military or civilian, do not receive medical benefits as other claimants do under RECA. The RECA program provides medical benefits both to uranium miners, millers, and transporters, and to downwinders. Those nuclear weapons industry workers who are accepted under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) also receive significant medical benefits under the act, whereas on-site participants do not.
We believe this is a flaw in the program because while active military personnel are entitled to Department of Veterans’ Affairs benefits and therefore should not have quite as a significant need for medical benefits, those civilian workers who were present for tests of nuclear weapons should receive medical benefits under the program. If there are legislative changes under the program, that circumstance should likely be addressed and we would encourage those working on any type of legislative change to the on-site participants program under RECA to make that change.
There are a number of tests to which RECA on-site participants claims apply. These are certain tests at Nevada Test Site and tests in the South Pacific that are the subject of on-site participant compensation.