nuclear workers to receive benefits
WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2000 (ENS)
The US Government will compensate thousands of workers
of the nuclear weapons complex.
Thousands of workers with illnesses resulting from
work in the nuclear weapons industry will be compensated, the Department
of Energy (DOE) announced today. "For decades, government ignored mounting
evidence that workers who were contributing to our nation's defense
were themselves being put at risk," said Vice President Al Gore. "While
we cannot undo their suffering, today this administration begins the
process of healing by admitting the government's mistakes, designing
a process for compensating these workers for their suffering and by
becoming an advocate for Department of Energy workers throughout the
nuclear weapons complex."
proposal, if approved by Congress, would compensate more than 3,000
workers. The legislation would give a lump sum or a package of benefits
including lost wages, medical expenses and job retraining. Covered will
be workers with pulmonary diseases caused from breathing particles of
beryllium, workers with cancers caused by workplace radiation exposure
and specific groups of workers at the department's Paducah, Kentucky;
Portsmouth, Ohio; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee sites. The announcement is
the culmination of a series of actions by the administration over the
past 10 months to compensate people who developed illnesses from exposure
to dangerous chemicals and radiation while building America's nuclear
defense. "We are moving forward to do the right thing by these workers,"
said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "The men and women who served
our nation in the nuclear weapons industries of World War II and the
Cold War labored under difficult and dangerous conditions with some
of the most hazardous materials known to mankind. This is a fair and
reasonable program. It will compensate workers and get them the help
they have long deserved."