Oscars spotlight on atomic bomb film ‘Oppenheimer’ should also shine light on continuing victims of radiation, Hawley argues

With Oppenheimer expected to win big at the Oscars next month, a celebration of the stunning film about the man who led the development of the atomic bomb presents an opening to tell the world about the continued victims of radiation in the U.S., Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley says.

Hawley, who has championed a bill to extend soon-to-expire compensation for such victims – in Missouri and across the country – recently sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, asking that the Oscars broadcast “include programming that recognizes the victims of America’s nuclear testing.”

Oppenheimer, which tracks the tortuous, torturous path of Manhattan Project leader J. Robert Oppenheimer, “tells a compelling story of these test programs,” Hawley writes the Academy. “But it does not tell the story of the Americans left behind – still reckoning with the health and financial consequences of America’s nuclear research, after all these years. Shouldn’t the victims who are still paying the price have a voice, too? …

“In places like my home state of Missouri, the radioactive waste of the Manhattan Project was never fully cleaned up. In many Western states, Americans living downwind from nuclear tests were never told the truth of their exposure and its consequences. In both cases, innocent people have suffered for decades.

“And now Congress stands poised to allow what limited compensation the government has offered victims to expire. That cannot be allowed to happen. These victims deserve justice through fair compensation from their government – and you can help by telling their stories.”

Hawley concludes the letter by noting “countless good Americans have already paid a price for their government’s negligence in testing and failure to clear up nuclear waste. They have the right to be heard on a national stage – especially yours.”

No matter what happens at the Oscars on March 10, Oppenheimer is guaranteed to get a megaton of attention. It is up for a leading 13 Oscars, and according to SportsbookReview.com is the odds-on favorite to win best picture, director, leading actor, supporting actor, adapted screenplay and more.

Members of the movie industry might see Hawley’s battle to extend and expand victims’ compensation under the expiring 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) as something of a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment: Though his bill sailed through as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, it was later stripped out for some reason by otherwise big-spending congressional leaders.

Since then, Hawley has been appealing to the public – and now, he hopes, the movie-going public – on the chance that telling the victims’ poignant stories may start a groundswell to help them.

One such victim, named Zoey, had a mass removed from her ovary several years ago, but the St. Louis-area native recently had to return to the doctor because she’s in so much pain.

She’s only 5 years old. She was but 3 weeks old when they removed the mass from her ovary.


About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.