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NIOSH Board Approves Santa Susana Field Laboratory Employees SEC Petition at Quarterly Meeting

December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016

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News & Events

At the recent NIOSH Advisory Board meeting, the Board voted to pass the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory (CA) SEC. This SEC will cover Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Ventura, CA for all employees from Dec. 31, 1964 through 1988. Another vote was taken on the Carborundum Company (NY) petition, but was tabled pending more information from NIOSH. And, workers who worked at Hooker Electrochemical from July 1, 1944 – Dec. 31, 1948 were added to the Hooker Electrochemical SEC.

Cold War Patriots’ own Worker Advocates Terrie Barrie and Deb Jerison were at the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health meeting of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The meeting was held from Nov. 30 – Dec. 1 in Santa Fe, NM. Below are Terrie’s notes regarding some of the discussions and decisions that were made at the meeting. For more in-depth information, please visit the NIOSH site.

Dose Reconstruction Program Update

This update was given by Stuart Hinnefeld, Director of the Division of Compensation Analysis and Support at NIOSH. They are working with the Department of Labor (DOL) to access two Department of Energy (DOE) databases to obtain incident reports.  Currently, 28% of claims are approved through dose reconstruction.

Department of Labor (DOL) EEOICPA Program Update

This update was given by Frank Crawford from the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC). Since the EEOICPA program became effective in 2001, 190,081 cases have been filed and the following compensation has been paid up to 11/6/16:

  • Part B – $6.1 billion in monetary compensation
  • Part E – $3.8 billion in monetary compensation
  • $3.1 billion in medical bills for both Part B & Part E

Under Part B, 94,001 cases have been issued a final decision. Of those 52% were approved and 48% were denied.

From July 2016 – September 2016, the top four worksites generating new Part B claims have been:

  • Hanford (WA)
  • Savannah River Site (SC)
  • Y-12 Plant (TN)
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (CA)

Department of Energy (DOE) EEOICPA Program Update

Greg Lewis from DOE presented. He discussed the U.S. Senate designating October 30, 2016 as the National Day of Remembrance for U.S. nuclear weapons workers, including uranium miners, millers and haulers. This day honors workers for their sacrifice to their country during the Cold War and up to present day. This year marks the 8th annual Day of Remembrance proclaimed by a Senate Resolution first introduced in 2009 by the Cold War Patriots community resource organization.

Mr. Lewis also discussed Document Acquisition Requests (DAR).Most of the DARs from the DOL have an average of 150 pages and have been fulfilled 95% of the time within the 60 day target date.  Verifying a claimant’s records is not an easy task:

  1. Claimants often worked at multiple DOE sites, for multiple contractors or subcontractors, and in different jobs or divisions over a career.
  2. The DOE may have to go to many different site departments and within those departments look at many different record sources or databases.
  3. One DOE site routinely checks approximately 40 different sources for records.
  4. About 20 records are over 60 days and the majority of those requests are for Pantex claimants.  This is because there is a new contract at that site and there are new people involved with this process.  Committee member Dr. Melius asked about the delays in getting documents from Savannah River Site.  Greg Lewis said he has not been approached about these delays and Dr. Melius asked him to get involved.

The DOE also maintains the website for covered facilities. See if the facility you worked at is covered. Once you pull up the facility’s information you can see a description of the facility as well as which contractors were at the facility during a certain year.

In addition, the DOE runs the Former Worker Medical Screening Program (FWSP). This program now serves ALL former workers from ALL DOE sites in locations close to their residences.

Review of Site Profile for Hooker Electrochemical Company

The 2/2/12 recommendation denying SEC status to Hooker employees was challenged by the petitioner. The petitioner was successful with part of the appeal of the Board’s decision and on October 30, 2015 workers employed for 250 days from July 1, 1944 through December 31, 1948 were added to the Cohort.  Part of the appeal decision also recommended that NIOSH address and correct some of their methodology.  NIOSH decided that the amount of radioactive material present at the site should be increased from 10 ton to 89 tons and that the percentage of uranium in that material needs to be increased from 5% to 25%.  NIOSH still needs to adjust the ingestion methodology.  Hooker claimants are approved, according to DOL, at 73% including SEC and claims approved under the dose reconstruction methods.

Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Petitions

Carborundum Company  (NY)

An SEC petition was filed on Nov. 19, 2014 to cover all employees who worked in any area of the Carborundum Company facility on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, NY from Jan. 1, 1943 – Dec. 31, 1976. The NIOSH Work Group who evaluates the petitions came to the conclusion that with appropriate adjustments, NIOSH can reconstruct doses for the proposed SEC class. The Board voted to table the vote

Santa Susana Field Laboratory (CA)

A Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) for Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Ventura County, CA for all employees from Dec. 31, 1964 through 1988, has been approved by the Board. Another SEC petition from 1989 through present is in the qualification process.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (NM)

An addendum to the original evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory SEC for all employees from 1996-2005 is in process. Expected completion is Feb. 2017.

Sandia National Laboratory (NM)

An addendum to address remaining years for the Sandia National Laboratory SEC is in process. Expected completion is June 2017.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (CA)

An addendum to address remaining years for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory SEC is in process. Expected completion is August 2017.

Idaho National Laboratory (ID)

An addendum to address reserved areas for the Idaho National Laboratory SEC is in the process. Expected completion is January 2017.

Metals & Controls (MA)

Residual period for all employees who worked from Jan. 1, 1968 – March 1, 1997 is in process. Expected completion is June 2017.

Feed Materials Production Center – Fernald (OH)

NIOSH is revising the site profiles to address remaining issues. Expected completion Dec. 2016.

Hanford (WA)

NIOSH reviewing documentation to determine whether prime contractors’ radiological control programs were meeting bioassay commitments. Unknown completion date.

Savannah River Site (SC)

NIOSH expects to have a number of outstanding reports to the Work Group by March 2017.

Grand Junction Facilities (CO)

Additional data capture and interviews are required to address recent SC&A, Inc. (the Advisory Board’s technical contractor) findings. Unknown completion date.

Rocky Flats Plant (CO)

Remaining issue is exposure to mixed fission and activation products from the Critical Mass Laboratory. NIOSH is developing a white paper to address comments on previous exposure model. White paper completion date Dec. 2016.

Argonne National Laboratory West (ID)

The Advisory Board and SC&A, Inc. is reviewing the initial evaluation report.

Potential SEC Petitions

  • Sandia National Laboratories (NM) – 1945-1948
  • Dayton Project Monsanto (OH) – modification based on change in facility designation

Future Board Meetings

There will be a teleconference meeting on January 25, 2017 at 11 a.m. EST of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. Other meetings in January include:

  • January 5: Meeting of the Advisory Board’s Work Group on the Nevada Test Site
  • January 10: Teleconference Meeting of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health Work Group on Subcommittee on Procedures Review
  • January 30, 2016: Teleconference Meeting of the Advisory Board’s Subcommittee for Dose Reconstruction Reviews

Phone numbers and agendas are available here.

The next face-to-face Board meeting will be March 22 and 23, probably in the Chicago area so that the Board can hear from Argonne East claimants.  Future dates for the rest of 2017 will be August 23, 24 and December 13, 14.  Rocky Flats and Savannah River Site were mentioned as possible sites for the meeting.

Public Comments

About 10 advocates and claimant supporters attended the meeting. Below are some of their public comments.

  • NIOSH did not advise some of the SEC petitioners about their status in a timely manner.  The Sandia petitioner was not aware that NIOSH planned to have a response by June, 2017.  He offered to the Board that his willingness to offer the NIOSH any assistance.
  • The LANL petitioner explained to the Board that he had only a day or two to research and offer an opposing view to NIOSH’s position.
  • The Rocky Flats co-petitioner was informed that the white paper on the Critical Mass Lab would be released the week of Dec. 5, 2016. She also presented a number of issues and new evidence that supported the petitioner’s position that NIOSH cannot reconstruct does for Rocky Flats. https://coldwarpatriots.org/breaking-news-for-rocky-flats-claimants/
  • Donna Hand addressed the Board about NIOSH not qualifying the Pinellas SEC petitions.
  • Hugh Stephens addressed NIOSH’s policy where NIOSH will not assign ANY dose for claimants at an SEC class if they do not have one of the 22 specified cancers.  He said that “Zero dose is what we know didn’t happen.”  He suggested that NIOSH and the Board develop a reasonable method so that these claimants can be assigned some kind of dose for dose reconstruction.