WASHINGTON – Compensation for victims of radioactive contamination in the St. Louis-area hangs in the balance as a deadline looms for Congress to pass a key bill.

The current version of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, also known as RECA, will expire on June 7 unless Congress reauthorizes it. The Senate has approved legislation to expand RECA, though efforts have stalled in the House.

Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley introduced one bill under review that calls on Congress to expand RECA under the condition that victims of radioactive contamination in the St. Louis area are compensated. That includes victims who suffered from an autoimmune virus, a genetic disorder, or cancer due to radiation.

Since Congress is not in session on Friday, if the bill doesn’t clear by Thursday, the federal government will not accept RECA claims postmarked after June 10, stopping payments to anyone in the United States who may have developed diseases from contamination.

Hawley and Missouri’s other U.S. senator, Eric Schmitt, spoke to FOX 2 earlier this week on why they feel getting a deal done is important:


“As far as I know, the Speaker of the House isn’t negotiating at all. Listen, this program expires on Friday. If the House doesn’t act by Friday, [anyone] in Missouri who has suffered from nuclear radiation, and that’s so many thousands of people, they’re going to get nothing. Nobody anywhere in the country, our veterans who have been subject to nuclear radiation, minors who have been exposed to radiation, folks in New Mexico and elsewhere who are down when all of those nuclear tests we saw in the Oppenheimer movie. Nobody’s going to get a thing. The House needs to act by Friday. They need to pass my bill by Friday. So, let’s see what happens.”


“My hope is that we’re actually going to get this thing done. I think we’ve got a lot of momentum and a lot of leverage. We had almost 80 votes in the Senate to include Missouri.”

“But there’s still work to do. As I’ve said before, it’s personal to me. I’m a co-sponsor of this. Also, I grew up in north St. Louis County, I still have family there. People were poisoned by their government, and they deserve this compensation. It won’t solve all the issues in the world for them, but I think it’s a meaningful first step.”


The issue of radioactive contamination was brought to national attention last year when environmental investigation consultants pointed out radioactive contamination at Jana Elementary School in north St. Louis County. There are also prolonged concerns about the West Lake landfill in Bridgeton, Coldwater Creek through multiple municipalities, and a former uranium plant site in Weldon Spring.

new report surfaced last year suggesting that the federal government downplayed and failed to fully investigate the risks of nuclear waste contamination that stemmed from the Manhattan Project in St. Louis County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shared a statement with FOX 2 on Wednesday saying it had completed a project to remove all contaminated soil from the banks of Coldwater Creek near Jana Elementary School.