ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test want to share their stories with Congress about health problems they say are linked to the explosion.
The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium is raising money so its members can travel to Washington, D.C., this summer and testify about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of Tularosa residents and others who lived near the site.
Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Downwinders, said around 10 members are planning to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee but no date has been scheduled.
“Two previous hearings have already been canceled so we are anxious to go and share our story,” Cordova said.
Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. The secret program provided enriched uranium for the atomic bomb. It also involved facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.
The bomb was tested in a stretch of desert near towns with Hispanic and Native American populations.
Members of the consortium say many who lived near the Trinity Test site weren’t told it had involved an atomic weapon until the U.S. dropped bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and World War II ended.
They say they want acknowledgment and compensation from the U.S. government after many families were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer.
Advocates want the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act amended so people near the site can be included. The law currently only covers areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different test site.
In 2015, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, pressed the Senate to include New Mexico residents in the law after meeting with Tularosa Downwinders. He said there is evidence that people were injured by radioactive fallout and should be compensated by the federal government.
The group is holding a jazz benefit concert in Albuquerque on Sunday. Cordova said the event already is near a sellout.
Associated Press writers Russell Contreras and Noreen Nasir are members of the AP’s race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras