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Utah cancer clinics get federal funding

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WASHINGTON — As part of continuing federal attempts to make amends to downwind cancer victims in Utah of atomic testing, two clinics won $500,000 in grants to screen people for cancer.

Intermountain Health Services in St. George will receive $313,000 and the Utah Navajo Health System in Montezuma Creek, San Juan County, will receive $210,000, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, announced Wednesday.

The money was made available through amendments that Hatch passed in 2000 to the Radiation Compensation and Exposure Act, which he in turn had passed in 1990 to create compensation programs for some downwind cancer victims of testing.

After a Deseret Morning News series in 1998 showed more than half of the people who applied for money through the original compensation were denied — and some victims groups called for federal cancer screening in Utah — Hatch passed the 2000 amendments to authorize the screening and expand what types of victims were eligible for awards.

"Thousands of Utahns have seen their loved ones ravaged by the effects of radiation exposure, or have themselves been victims," said Hatch. "It's very gratifying to see this money come through, so that more Utahns who potentially have been affected can get the treatment they need."

Hatch said that a total of more than $1.7 million in grants will be awarded under the screening program by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Much of the funding will go toward screening for cancer and other diseases caused by radiation, as well as treatment referrals and education and outreach programs, he said.

E-mail: leed@dgsys.com