WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District released the following statement Thursday on the 70th anniversary of the first test of an atomic bomb detonation at the Trinity test site in southern New Mexico:
“Today, we honor the memory of those who have fallen ill or passed on due to radiation exposure from the Trinity test. On this day 70 years ago, rural New Mexico became ground zero for the detonation of the first nuclear bomb. While it would usher in the start of the atomic age, it also marked the beginning of sickness and suffering for generations of people who lived and grew up in the Tularosa Basin and other areas downwind of the test site.
“We remember those who continue to bear the costs of nuclear testing decades later and recommit to seeking recognition and compensation for the men and women who have been gravely impacted. As a nation we have a responsibility to act and acknowledge the pain that so many New Mexicans and other downwinders have experienced following the Trinity Test. The legacy of that moment in our nation’s history is still alive and continues to be felt to this very day by all those battling cancer and other diseases as a result of radiation exposure.
“It is long past time for Congress to take action and pass legislation expanding the Radiation Expose Compensation Act so that these individuals are no longer left behind, and so that we can come to terms with the full impact of the nuclear age.
“Though we can never fully compensate these Americans for what they have lost, they deserve to be recognized and receive just compensation that will help generations of families who have gotten sick because of uranium mining or nuclear testing. The men and women who have suffered from radiation exposure must not be forgotten.”