Crapo to attend screening of 'Downwinders' documentary

August 6, 2013 

Idaho downwinders and supporters gathered at the Statehouse Friday to mark the 55th anniversary of the first nuclear-bomb test and rally for aid to cancer victims in Idaho. Idahoans are supporting Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who is working to win federal compensation for downwinders harmed by fallout from Nevada nuclear-bomb tests. Currently, $50,000 federal payments are available to some cancer victims in Utah, Nevada and Arizona. But Idahoans, many who received higher doses of radiation, are not covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Crapo has yet to secure a hearing on his bill; downwinders have organized a letter-writing campaign to urge Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to schedule a hearing. The Snake River Alliance sponsored the community vigil.


— U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho will attend the Saturday screening of a documentary "work in progress" that highlights cancer and other illnesses suffered by people exposed to radiation from nuclear arms tests in the 1950s and 1960s.

The film is called "Downwinders." The trailer for the movie appears below.

The movie, which hasn't been completed, looks at the lives of residents of Enterprise, Utah, and the film crew of John Wayne's 1956 film "The Conquerer," which was filmed in the same part of the state.

Of the 220 crew members who worked on the movie, more than 90 contracted cancer and 46 died from it, including Wayne, fellow actor Pedro Armendáriz, actresses Agnes Moorehead and Susan Hayward and director Dick Powell.

Four Idaho counties, including Gem County where Emmett is located, were among the top five nationally for fallout.

From 1951 to 1962, the U.S. government set off 90 above-ground nuclear bomb tests in the Nevada desert. Radioactive clouds of iodine-131 blew through Utah and Idaho.

The contamination fell on pastures and alfalfa fields with the contaminated feed eaten by dairy cows and goats. People were exposed again when they drank milk from those farm animals. Children under 5, who drank more milk than older people and who had much small thyroid glands, were hit hard.

The screening at 3 p.m. at the Frontier Theater in Emmett, 127 W. Main St. Crapo will lead a discussion at 5 p.m. at Computater’s, 117 E. Main St.

Crapo has co-sponsored legislation four times since 2005 to compensate victims of the radiation by amending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Designed to assist victims of military and industrial accidents, RECA has been in place since 1990.


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