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Legislation Re-Introduced to Reform the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program

March 25, 2021

March 25, 2021

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Industry News

Senators Murray and Manchin, Representative Smith Reintroduce Legislation to Expand Worker’s Compensation for Toxic Exposure at Hanford and Other Nuclear Sites

Mar 25 2021

The Toxic Exposure Safety Act would make it easier for workers at the Hanford clean-up and other nuclear clean-up sites to receive the full benefits they’re entitled to when suffering illnesses due to toxic exposure on the job

Senator Murray and Representative Adam Smith originally introduced the Toxic Exposure Safety Act in July of 2020 after the Seattle Times ran an investigative story  Legislation supported by Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 598, Central WA Building & Construction Trades 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate health and labor committee, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Chair of the Senate energy committee, and U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D, WA-09), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, reintroduced the Toxic Exposure Safety Act—legislation in the Senate that will ensure cleanup workers at the Hanford Nuclear Site and other Department of Energy (DOE) environmental management sites can more easily claim worker’s compensation benefits when they suffer from certain medical conditions as a result of exposure to toxic substances. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th) is introducing companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Currently, Hanford workers can file for worker’s compensation claims when they have health issues through both the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries and DOE’s third-party insurer, Penser. Washington state’s 2018 presumption law makes it easier for Hanford workers to file for state compensation claims for covered conditions, but the state program, while valuable, very often falls short of being able to compensate these workers equitably when they are off the job from work-related illness due to toxic exposure. The Toxic Exposure Safety Act seeks to make such claims at the federal level more achievable, and allow Hanford workers and workers at similar DOE sites to collect the full worker’s compensation benefits they’re entitled to.

“There is too much we don’t know when it comes to the health outcomes of exposure to the toxic substances required for plutonium production and other activities at nuclear sites that workers at Hanford go through every day,” said Senator Murray. “This legislation takes the right steps to help fix this knowledge gap and ensure Hanford workers and those at other nuclear clean-up sites can obtain the full benefits they’re entitled to when they’ve contracted illnesses as a result of workplace exposure. As a voice for Hanford workers in the Senate, I will be working to pass this legislation and get them the support and assistance they deserve.”

“Americans who work to clean up nuclear sites risk their health every day to help power our great nation. These workers are exposed to radiological substances and chemicals that can cause terminal illness, and we must ensure they receive the benefits they deserve. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to introduce the Toxic Exposure Safety Act, which will make it easier for workers at nuclear clean-up sites to claim worker’s compensation benefits when they are afflicted with illness due to toxic exposure. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in passing this commonsense, compassionate legislation and I will continue to advocate for stronger safety and benefits to support workers who have been exposed to toxins on the job,” said Senator Manchin …

“This legislation is an important reform to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act (EEOICPA). EEOICPA was intended to compensate workers who worked for the national defense in the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons facilities and developed diseases from the exposures to toxic substances they experienced on a daily basis. The Toxic Exposure Safety Act of 2021 will take the burden of proof off some of the claimants to prove causation and have claims based on the consensus of the scientific community. We thank Senator Patty Murray, Senator Joe Manchin, and Congressman Adam Smith for their continued efforts to support the dedicated workers, or their survivors, to receive the fair compensation for their work in protecting our country, ” said Terrie Barrie, Founding Member of the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups.

“Cold War Patriots applauds the ongoing efforts of Senator Murray, Senator Manchin, and Congressman Smith to create and pass much needed legislation to streamline the claims process for toxic illnesses and expand program coverage to those workers previously overlooked.” Tim Lerew, Spokesperson, Cold War Patriots.

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