Published: April 23, 2010
The US Department of Justice recently posted an internship description on their website asking for students to help identify residents of Navajo Nation who have been impacted by the presence of abandoned uranium mines.
The effort is part of a comprehensive five year plan that the US federal government embarked upon at the urging of Congressman Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2006. The plan calls for Navajo lands to be cleaned up and for Navajos whose health has been impacted by the old cold-war era uranium mines to be fairly compensated.
According to the new internship description, the Justice Department is “looking for creative and dynamic college students to serve as [Radiation Exposure Compensation Act] Program Outreach Interns. The RECA Program will cover travel costs, room and board, and pay a small stipend to cover Outreach Interns’ incidental expenses.”
The task is particularly difficult because victims must provide onerous documentation of their eligibility and fill out a more than 20 page form. Navajo residents often don’t have the medical records that officials require, which makes proving health impacts even harder.
The Department of Justice says that the responsibilities of the new interns will include spreading awareness about the compensation program, helping applicants find or obtain paperwork, and helping arrange medical testing for those affected by atomic programs. Training for the student interns will occur in June, July, and early August, and their employment is expected to be 20 hours a week for at least six months. Those interested should apply on the Department of Justice’s website.
The RECA act originally passed Congress in 1990, but has seen a renewed interest due to Congressman Waxman’s hearings four years ago. It permits up to $100,000 in compensation to those affected by uranium mining and atomic bomb testing during the cold war.