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Discussions with Deb: Finding Evidence to Support Your Claim

October 16, 2018

October 16, 2018

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One of the hardest parts of working on an EEOICPA claim is finding the evidence to prove a worker worked at a DOE facility, the locations/processes they worked in, and the toxic materials they handled.  DOL developed the Site Exposure Matrix to help with this but sometimes more is needed.

One of the online resources that can be helpful with this is the US Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).  OSTI is a database containing over 3,000,000 documents starting with the Manhattan Project to the current day.

These documents contain a wealth of information, including workers’ names, materials used, processes, locations and buildings.

It is not always straight forward to find the information you need.  Sometimes you have to ask the question in different ways to find it.

Let’s work with a real-life example of how OSTI documents can be useful in a claim. My father worked at Mound Lab from 1949-1957.  He died in 1960.  My mother filed an EEOICPA claim in 2002.  How could we possibly learn what he worked with 42 years after his death?  The only way I could think to approach this was to look at Mound documents.

Here is one path to finding documents that would help me prove his exposures.

If you go to the OSTI webpage you will see a dropdown menu which reveals the advanced search options:

A search with his name, Goode, J.M., in the “Creator/Author” field turned up 13 documents.  The same search with “Full Text/Resource Available” checked under “Availability” turned up only 1 document.  I was disappointed that only one of the 13 was available online.

This document seems to be about measurements of polonium.  Might be useful to prove exposure to polonium, but I was looking for something with a little more depth.  I think about what I know that could help me.

  • I know my dad authored papers for Mound.
  • I know he worked with polonium.
  • I know Mound’s documents began with MLM.
  • I also know that the search function on OSTI is not able to pick up all words, so just because my search on his name didn’t find what I wanted does not mean it isn’t there.

Since the first search didn’t work, I decide to structure my search a little more broadly.

I put “MLM” into the “Identifier Numbers” field and “polonium” into the “All Fields” field.

This turns up 328 documents—too many to be useful.  BUT I can limit the search by year so I add his years at Mound into the “Publication Date” field. I also check the “Full Text/Resource Available” box again.  This brings up a list of 85 documents.  This is more manageable and I start reviewing the documents.

Notice that each of the documents listed has a paragraph, called an abstract, below the title of the document.  Reading this gives you an overview of the document.  I look through the 85 documents for one that might contain useful exposure information on exposures.

I find a document named MLM-484-1 Report for General Research April 1 to August 7, 1950 which has a section my father authored. In this he wrote about experiments he conducted about creating compounds with polonium and other metals, along with the dates the experiments were conducted.  I find a very useful discussion in one experiment where he details how the capillary holding the beryllium powder and polonium broke and how he then poured the beryllium and polonium into another capillary and resealed it.  Since I know he suffered from breathing problems this seems very significant.

At the end of the report is a list of other documents he references that I can review.

In 2007 I submitted this document, along with others, to DOL as part of my mother’s Part E claim on my father.  It worked!  The claim was approved.

Of course, everyone’s claim is different but hopefully my experience will give you some ideas for working on your own claim.