|WASHINGTON — More than 8,000 current or former workers of the Department of Energy nuclear site in Aiken have received at least $800 million in federal compensation and paid medical expenses for job-related illnesses, Labor Department data show.|
The payments under a little-noticed federal program represent a fraction of the staggering nationwide toll of a nuclear weapons industry born out of the Cold War: More than 104,000 sick workers have received almost $11 billion in compensation and medical expenses.
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program was created in October 2000 to identify workers who grew ill after being unknowingly exposed to hazardous materials at nuclear plants during the Cold War, like the then-named Savannah River Plant of Aiken.
Many former workers of the Savannah River Plant who are sick from, or have died from, diseases like cancer, beryllium disease, silicosis, asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are eligible for compensation or medical expenses. In the case of a worker’s death, their survivors can file a claim.
“Not until the act was actually in the works back in the late ’90s did they finally realize that there was a lot of exposures at these particular Department of Energy sites,” said Rachel Leiton, director of the program. “And that’s why they created the act.”
A 2007 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study of more than 18,000...
Monday, December 1, 2014
Some $800M paid to SRS workers for Cold War radiation exposure
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