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Reps. Whitfield, Polis take lead in new bill supporting nuclear workers

March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011

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The below story is republished from Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground Blog.

U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Jared Polis, D-Colorado, have introduced legislation to support sick workers at sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

According to information released today by Whitfield’s office in Washington, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) Amendment Act of 2011 would require President Obama “to establish and appoint an advisory board on toxic substances and worker health responsible for overseeing a portion of the original EEOICPA legislation known as ‘Part E.’ ”

The Part E program provides eligible employees with payments up to $250,000, plus medical expenses, for health conditions as a result of having been exposed to toxic substances while working at the Department of Energy sites.

The release said the new board would advise the Secretaries of Labor, Energy and Health and Human Services on the review and approval of applications for compensation.

“Furthermore, the Ombudsman for the Department of Labor would be required to provide an annual report to Congress on the program and make the report available to the public online,” the release from Whitfield’s office said.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, has introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Whitfield said a second bill introduced today would amend Part E to allow survivors of family members who file claims under Part E but who pass away before their claims are approved to receive the full benefit that would have been awarded to the claimant.

In a statement, the Kentucky congressman said, “Too often workers and surviving family members at sites like the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant run into challenges when weaving through the federal government maze to claim benefits they deserve. I am pleased to join Congressman Polis today to introduce this important legislation which will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of EEOICPA and, in turn, help ensure workers and their families receive just compensation in a timely manner.”