(KCPW News) More federal dollars could be heading to Monticello, Utah, residents exposed to radiation from a U.S. Department of Energy uranium processing mill that operated until 1960 on the outskirts of town. Barbara Pipkin, of the Monticello group Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure, says the money will help screen residents for cancer.
"We're very grateful, we're very humbly grateful you know, that people have finally noticed and realize what we've been saying all along that people have been affected by the mill site and contamination by the federal government," Pipkin says.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations committee approved a request by Senators Bob Benett and Orrin Hatch for $400,000. That money will add to $80,000 they were able to secure last year. Residents have documented 510 cancer victims who lived or once lived in the small southeastern Utah town, which has a total population of roughly 2,000 people today. A Utah Department of Health study affirms residents have a higher than normal cancer rate. And Pipkin says the health department is now organizing the cancer screenings. But Pipkin and the Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure group want to have screening and treatment for all residents who lived in Monticello during the contamination years, 1941 to 2000.
"We are hoping to get federal recognition and qualify for some federal money through different DOE projects, since it was the DOE that created the problem to begin with, and literally not the state of Utah, although the state of Utah really has stepped up when it doesn't have to. And it's time the federal government does the same thing," Pipkin says.
The Senate appropriation still needs to be ratified by both houses. It is now on the Senate calendar. In total, Bennett and Hatch are asking for $2.9 million for health care and health education programs in Utah.