Nuclear test victims

Other Names:
Compensation for nuclear testing
Illness caused by atomic bomb test fallout
Radioactive fallout victims

In 1990, the USA Radiation Exposure Compensation Act created a trust fund to compensate people, or their survivors, whose cancer was determined to have been caused by radiation downwind of sites of nuclear weapons testing in the USA. By 1994, 1,460 claims had been filed in respect of residents who lived downwind of the Nevada Test Site, of which 818 (56%) had been approved. Only certain types of cancer qualify. The maximum award is $50,000.

In 1993, the USA set up a $45 million fund to cover illness and property damage caused by nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s. The tribunal administering the fund lists 435 people with health problems linked to radiation, ranging from leukaemia and end-stage lymphoma, for which compensation is the highest at $125,000, to thyroid nodules and benign salivary-gland tumour, the payment for which is $12,500. However, the fund is unlikely to be sufficient to satisfy all compensation awards -- the islanders from Rongelap, which was dusted with snow-like fallout in 1954, are seeking $100 million alone, and there are thousands of Marshall Islanders who were covered with fallout and have yet to seek compensation.

From 1949 to 1963, testing of nuclear warheads in Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan, exposed over 1.5 million people to radiation. The result has been an increase in malignant forms of cancer. In the south Urals region, where tests were carried out from 1949 to 1967, nearly 1,000 people living in the basin of the River Techj were officially registered as suffering from leukaemia. In areas affected by nuclear testing the death rate was four times the national average in 1992.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST