|Report Title: Hawaii National Guard Veterans; Depleted Uranium Testing; Study|
Description: Requires assisting returning Hawaii national guard veterans to obtain federal treatment services, including screening for low levels of depleted uranium. Establishes task force to study effects of exposures to hazardous materials, including depleted uranium. Commissions study. Appropriates $ .
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H.B. NO. 2741
TWENTY-THIRD LEGISLATURE, 2006
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to depleted uranium and other hazardous materials exposure.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that depleted uranium is a chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metal and a waste product of nuclear fuel or nuclear bomb production during which natural uranium is depleted of uranium 235. Gram for gram, depleted uranium is sixty per cent as radioactive as pure uranium ore and has a half-life of four and one-half billion years.
The legislature further finds that depleted uranium emits radioactive alpha particles that can cause cancer when inhaled or ingested and can cause kidney and lung damage. Depleted uranium can also cause mutations that can be carried forward from one generation to another.
The legislature further finds that at least sixteen different munitions used by United States armed forces contain depleted uranium because it is 1.7 times denser than lead, making it a highly effective anti-tank weapon when the depleted uranium slices through a tank's armor. When a depleted uranium shell penetrates through tank armor, it ignites and spews an extremely fine depleted uranium dust into the air. Such dust can carry for miles and can be easily inhaled or ingested. Depleted uranium is also used in the armor of Abrams tanks, exposing the operators of those tanks to depleted uranium radiation.
The legislature further finds that depleted uranium munitions and armor have been used extensively in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. Members of Hawaii's national guard serving in Iraq, and in armed services functions, facilities, vehicles, and aircraft involving depleted uranium, have been exposed to depleted uranium in unknown doses with unknown consequences to their health.
The purpose of this Act is to safeguard the health of Hawaii's national guard veterans by assisting these veterans in obtaining federal treatment services, including best practice health screening tests capable of detecting low levels of depleted uranium, and by establishing a task force to study the health effects on these veterans of exposures to hazardous materials, including depleted uranium, during their service.
SECTION 2. Chapter 363, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§363-A Test for exposure to depleted uranium. (a) As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise:
"Depleted uranium" means uranium containing less uranium-235 than the naturally occurring distribution of uranium isotopes.
"Eligible member" means a member of the Hawaii national guard who served in the Persian Gulf War, as defined in title 38 United States Code section 101, or in an area designated as a combat zone or qualified hazardous duty area by the President of the United States during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"Military physician" includes a physician who is under contract with the United States Department of Defense to provide physician services to members of the armed forces.
"Veteran" means a veteran, as defined in section 363-1, who served as an eligible member.
(b) After October 1, 2006, the adjutant general and the director of the office of veterans' affairs shall assist any eligible member or veteran who:
(1) Has been assigned a risk level I, II, or III for depleted uranium exposure by the veteran's branch of service;
(2) Is referred by a military physician; or
(3) Has reason to believe that the veteran was exposed to depleted uranium during such service,
in obtaining federal treatment services, including a best practice health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium using a bioassay procedure involving sensitive methods capable of detecting depleted uranium at low levels and the use of equipment with the capacity to discriminate between different radioisotopes in naturally occurring levels of uranium and the characteristic ratio and marker for depleted uranium. No state funds shall be used to pay for these tests or any other federal treatment services.
(c) Before October 1, 2006, the adjutant general shall submit a report to the committees of the legislature having cognizance of matters relating to military and veterans' affairs on the scope and adequacy of training received by members of the Hawaii national guard on detecting whether their service as eligible members is likely to entail, or to have entailed, exposure to depleted uranium. The report shall include an assessment of the feasibility and cost of adding predeployment training concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and noncombat conditions while in a combat zone."
SECTION 3. Exposure to hazardous materials; health effects; task force; membership; study; termination. (a) There is established a task force within the office of veterans' services to study the health effects on eligible members, as defined in section 363-A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, of exposure to hazardous materials including depleted uranium, as they relate to military service. The task force, within available appropriations, shall:
(1) With the approval of the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives and subject to subsection (c), commission a study to consider the health of eligible members as defined in section 363-A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, who may have been exposed to hazardous materials since August 2, 1990, and conduct a scientific conference on the health effects;
(2) Initiate a health registry for veterans, as defined in section 363-1, and military personnel returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, or other countries in which depleted uranium or other hazardous materials may be found;
(3) Develop a plan for outreach to and follow-up of eligible members;
(4) Prepare a report for eligible members concerning potential exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic chemical substances and the precautions recommended under combat and noncombat conditions while in a combat zone; and
(5) Make any other recommendations the task force considers appropriate.
(b) The task force shall consist of fourteen members as follows:
(1) The director of the office of veterans' services or a designee;
(2) The director of health or a designee;
(3) Six members of the legislature appointed by the governor as nominated, one each, by the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the senate, and the majority and minority leaders of the house of representatives;
(4) Two members who are veterans with knowledge of or experience with exposure to hazardous materials appointed by the governor as nominated, one each, by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives; and
(5) Four members who are physicians or scientists with knowledge of or experience in the detection or health effects of exposure to depleted uranium or other hazardous materials appointed by the governor as nominated, one each, by the majority and minority leaders of the senate and the majority and minority leaders of the house of representatives.
(c) The person or entity retained to conduct the study under subsection (a)(1), prior to being retained, shall disclose to the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives any research done by that person:
(1) On any matters related to depleted uranium; or
(2) That was funded by an entity that is engaged in any manufacturing process that uses depleted uranium.
(d) All appointments to the task force shall be made no later than thirty days after the effective date of this Act.
(e) The president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives shall select as co-chairpersons of the task force one senator and one representative, respectively, from among the members appointed under subsection (b)(3). The co-chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force to be held no later than sixty days after the effective date of this Act.
(f) The staff of the office of veteran's services shall serve as administrative staff of the task force.
(g) The task force shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the legislature not later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2007. The task force shall cease to exist on June 30, 2007.
SECTION 4. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $ , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2006-2007, for the task force established in section 3 of this Act to carry out the study of exposure of veterans to depleted uranium and other hazardous materials.
The sum appropriated shall be expended by the office of veterans' affairs for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 5. In codifying the new section added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute an appropriate section number for the letter used in designating the new sections in this Act.
SECTION 6. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval, except that section 4 shall take effect on July 1, 2006.