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$5 billion paid by nuclear weapons industry occupational illness compensation program devised by OSHA chief nominee Dr. David Michaels (8/5)

August 5, 2009
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The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it has paid more than $5 billion in compensation and medical benefits to more than 52,600 claimants nationwide under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). This coincides with the eighth anniversary of the Labor Department's administration of the EEOICPA, which provides compensation and medical benefits to employees who became ill as a result of working in the nuclear weapons industry.

OSHA chief nominee Dr. David Michaels has been described as the architect of the compensation program. From 1998 to 2001, Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health at the Departmentof Energy, responsible for protecting the health and safety of workers, neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. In that position, he was developed the initiative to compensate nuclear weapons workers who developed occupational illnesses as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards.

"I am proud to announce that the Labor Department has delivered more than $5 billion in compensation and medical benefits to deserving workers and their families during the eight years it has administered the EEOICPA," said Shelby Hallmark, acting assistant secretary of labor for employment standards. "The department is dedicated to carrying out the vital mission of this program: getting compensation and medical benefits to eligible workers and their survivors as quickly and consistently as possible. We will continue to strengthen the adjudication process, our outreach efforts and claimant services in order to carry out the EEOICPA in a manner that is consistent with the law as enacted by Congress."

During fiscal year 2009, the Labor Department has continued to assist the nuclear weapons community by expanding its claimant services and outreach initiatives across the country. The department's Traveling Resource Center was in Washington, Pa., last week to inform workers and their survivors about new special exposure cohorts at Vitro Manufacturing and Westinghouse Atomic Power Development Plant.

The Traveling Resource Center goes monthly to Kayenta, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M., to assist individuals with the filing of their claims under the EEOICPA.

Eleven stationary resource centers continue to play an active role in outreach efforts and provide personal assistance to claimants with filing claims, conducting occupational health interviews and answering questions concerning medical bills.

On July 31, 2001, the Labor Department began administering Part B of the EEOICPA. Part B covers current or former workers who have been diagnosed with cancers, beryllium disease or silicosis, and whose illness was caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while working directly for the U.S. Department of Energy, that department's contractors or subcontractors, designated Atomic Weapons Employers or beryllium vendors.

Since 2001, the Labor Department has delivered compensation to more than 37,200 claimants under the Part B provisions of the act.

Part E, created by an amendment to the act on October 28, 2004, provides federal compensation and medical benefits to contractors and subcontractors of the Department of Energy who worked at covered facilities and sustained an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances. Under the Labor Department's administration, the Part E benefit payout already has exceeded $1.6 billion.

The EEOICPA also provides additional compensation to uranium workers who worked at Section 5 uranium mines, uranium mills and ore buying stations covered under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Certain survivors of nuclear weapons industry workers are also eligible for benefits under Part B and Part E. For additional information about how to file a claim under the EEOICPA, call 866-888-3322 toll-free.

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