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Discussions with Deb: New SEC for Y-12

January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019

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This may not come as a surprise to you but EEOICPA is complicated!

At the December, 2018 NIOSH Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health meeting NIOSH announced that they were unable to reconstruct dose for Y-12 workers for thorium and plutonium-241 from January 1, 1958 through December 31, 1976 for all workers at Y-12.  Since NIOSH found they could not reconstruct dose for that time period they recommended that a Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) be established for:

All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during the period January 1, 1958 through December 31, 1976 for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring either solely under this employment or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees in the Special Exposure Cohort.

There are previous SECs which cover all employees, who have worked at least 250 days, since the beginning of Y-12 Plant operation in March, 1943 so in effect this will extend the coverage from the opening of Y-12 through 1976.

To be covered by the new SEC a worker must been diagnosed with one of the 22 SEC cancers and must have worked at least 250 days during a SEC time frame.

The most common way a SEC is created is when a claimant files a petition to create one.  But there is a second way for SECs to be created. The second type is called an 83.14 because this is the section of the EEOICPA law that describes how NIOSH is to proceed when they determine they are unable to reconstruct dose for a claimant. This SEC for Y-12 was filled by NIOSH itself under the 83.14 section in this second way.

So when will this SEC go into effect?  We don’t precisely know.  Each of the steps that need to be completed must be published in the Federal Register and the current government shutdown is causing issues with this.  However, NIOSH assured me that the shutdown problem with getting the Federal Register published will not necessarily slow down the HHS decision process.

NIOSH estimates it will be a minimum of another couple months before the SEC is finalized.  The Board voted to establish the SEC in December.  The next step is that the NIOSH director makes a recommendation to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.  Once the Secretary agrees, the Congress has a chance to agree or disagree. This should all happen without a hitch.  To date, once the Board votes to establish an SEC, neither the Secretary nor the Congress has ever objected.  Chances are it will be the same this time.

NIOSH will also evaluate whether they can reconstruct dose for thorium from January 1, 1977 forward so there is a chance this SEC may be extended depending on what NIOSH finds and the Board decides.