2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 12 Apr 2002 13:51:56 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Justice for Cold War heroes
Justice for Cold War heroes 

Instead of following Congress' intent to compensate Cold War workers for 
work-induced illnesses, the Energy Department is looking for excuses not 
to offer compensation, which ultimately could cut into nuclear weapons 
program and research budgets

By Ben Ortiz and Ken Silver

"Promises and pie crusts," goes the adage, "are made to be broken."

It was all mom-and-apple-pie when Congress passed the Energy Employees 
Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act just before Election Day 

Help was on the way for "Cold War heroes" made ill in nuclear weapons 

We campaigned for the legislation and cheered its passage.

But the Department of Energy's (DOE) implementation plan is hard to 

Congress called for an "efficient, uniform and adequate compensation" 
system for all nuclear weapons workers.

Families impacted by beryllium disease, silicosis, or radiation-related 
cancer are entitled to lump sum payments of $150,000 and medical 
benefits through claims administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Unfortunately, Congress balked at including "other toxic substances" 
-like solvents, asbestos, acids and heavy metals - in the federal 
compensation program. For DOE workers made ill from toxic substances, 
DOE is supposed to provide "assistance" through a Physicians Panel to 
help workers obtain state workers' compensation.

If these doctors determine an illness to be chemically related, then DOE 
is supposed to order the contractor to pay up. Most DOE contractors, 
including Los Alamos, are self-insured. The federal government can 
simply reimburse the claims as an operating cost.

However, a year-and-a-half after the law was signed, DOE has yet to 
issue final regulations. DOE's proposed rule will likely violate all 
three Congressional intentions. It's inefficient. It's not uniform 
across the DOE weapons complex. And the compensation will not be 
adequate. Nine members of Congress recently wrote a letter to Energy 
Secretary Abraham questioning whether DOE's proposed system is workable.

The complete article can be viewed at:

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