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DOL Advisory Board Holds Board Meeting

April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018

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Industry News

The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health held a meeting on April 11 in Oak Ridge, TN. The meeting began with a tribute given by Dr. Paul Ziemer to Dr. James Melius, former Chairman of the Board who passed away recently. Dr. Ziemer remembered Dr. Melius’s humor, reliability of character and insightfulness, as well as the depth of his caring for claimants, board members and the EEOIC program. Dr. Ziemer stated that Dr. Melius left a legacy to mankind to protect the health and safety of others.

Because no chairperson has been appointed yet, Ted Katz, the board’s federal official, acted as interim chair on administrative duties with Dr. Zeimer handling the board’s parliamentary role when a vote is necessary.

The following items were discussed during the meeting:

Authorized Representative workshop: A workshop for authorized representatives living in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota will be held May 15-16 in Kennewick, Washington.

NIOSH update: Stu Hinnefeld gave the NIOSH update.  He reported that NIOSH’s funding in the budget is stable, although he does not know yet how sequestration will affect the agency.  He provided an update on the number of cases NIOSH has handled through March.

DOL update: Chris Crawford presented the DOL report to the board.  He reported on the DOL’s statistics on claims.

DOE update:  Greg Lewis presented the DOE report to the board, as well as a report on the Former Worker Screening Program.  He reported that due to budgetary problems DOE had been less timely in their response in providing records to NIOSH/DOL for the last quarter but thought this had been corrected for the new quarter.  He also thanked the Board for going on a tour of Oak Ridge.

Weldon Spring Site Profile Review: The Weldon Spring workgroup reported that all Findings and Observations for Weldon Spring had been resolved.  The board voted to accept the workgroup’s recommendation to close these issues.

There was a very technical discussion of the Interactive Radio Epidemiological Program (IREP).  IREP is used to calculate the probability that radiation exposure caused a cancer and was developed by NIOSH in 2002.  The purpose of this presentation was to generate further discussions with the Board whether IREP should be updated.

The main issue is including low level chronic radiation exposure in IREP.  If these exposures are included, theoretically, it could increase the probability of causation (POC).  This will be very important especially to claimants who have a 49% POC.

The next face to face meeting will be August 22-23, 2018.  Location to be determined at a later date.  Possible venues are Los Angeles for Santa Susana Field Lab, Albuquerque for LANL and Sandia or Providence, RI for Metals and Controls.

Work Group Updates:

  • Idaho National Lab – hope to have a meeting before August 2018.
  • Los Alamos National Lab – WG heard from county workers who are having difficulty being accepted as covered workers.   Ombudsman, Denise Brock, is working with Department of Labor on this issue.
  • Metals and Controls – meeting on May 3, 2018.
  • Gaseous Diffusion Plants – Work Group looking over material lists.
  • Savannah River – approximately 850 boxes of new documents have been located.  NIOSH is reviewing and developing a sampling plan.

Adding Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: There was a short discussion about adding Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia to the list of 22 specified cancers.  Dr. Ziemer asked Ted Katz if anyone at the Center for Disease Control or Health and Human Services (HHS) will be reaching out to Congress about this.  Mr. Katz said this is not an HHS issue or responsibility and no one from that agency will be lobbying for this.

Oak Ridge facility update: NIOSH presented an update on the eight Oak Ridge Facilities.  Much of the presentation involved the historical processes.  NIOSH is researching the feasibility to reconstruct dose for ORNL and Y-12 for years not covered by the current Special Exposure Cohorts.  For ORNL, NIOSH is looking at the 213 isotopes that facility produced and for Y-12 they are investigating thorium exposure.

To view the documents presented at the meeting, please click here.