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UPDATES: Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health Plans for In-person Meeting in Oak Ridge

June 27, 2019

June 27, 2019

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Industry News

The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health held a teleconference on June 25, 2019 in preparation for the in-person meeting in Oak Ridge, TN.  The date of the meeting is August 21, 2019.  Cold War Patriots will inform you of the location, time, and agenda when the board finalizes the details.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will present two new Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) petitions to the board in August.  The first one, SEC petition 250 for Y-12, qualified for years 1977 through 1994.  NIOSH will have their Evaluation Report discussing whether they can reconstruct dose for these years completed before the meeting. The second petition to be discussed will be for the West Valley Demonstration Project, located in the state of New York.  This is what is known as an 83.14 petition and is initiated by NIOSH.  NIOSH plans to recommend that the board approves this site as a member of the SEC.  The years covered are 1966 through 1973.  The board will also discuss the petition for Area IV of the Santa Susanna Field Lab.

If the board approves any of these petitions, then workers, or their survivors, employed at those sites who worked for 250 days and developed one of the 22 cancers specified by the law will not need to undergo dose reconstruction.  Their claims will be automatically compensated under Part B of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, as amended, for $150,000 plus medical benefits.  They are also automatically covered under Part E of the Act for any impairment, wage loss or certain survivor benefits.

LaVon Rutherford of NIOSH reported to the board that he reviewed 5 boxes of Rocky Flats documents that the petitioner for Rocky Flats requested.   These boxes are located at Los Alamos National Lab. He determined that one document is relevant to the Rocky Flats SEC.  That document is now with the Department of Energy (DOE) and is under a classification review to ensure no national security issues will be revealed.  He also located a document concerning Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  That document, too, is with DOE.

The chair for the Carborundum Work Group reported that most of the site profile issues are closed.  Only one remains and has been tabled until the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) releases their new report.  The issue with Carorundum was found when the board’s contractor, Sanford Cohen and Associates (SC&A) discovered that if a different ICRP table was used instead of the one NIOSH uses the probability of causation increased by 2%.  ICRP should have the new tables out in a few months.

The Work Group for the Savannah River Site reported that SC&A is reviewing NIOSH’s co-worker model.  There’s a lot of material to go over.  They plan to have a joint in person meeting in September with the SEC Work Group.

It was announced that the Secretary of Health and Human Services accepted the board’s recommendation to include certain workers from the Idaho National Laboratory in the SEC.  If Congress doesn’t object the class will be official by the end of July.  The class definition is,

 “All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Scoville, Idaho, and who were monitored for external radiation at the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant (CPP) (e.g., at least one film badge or TLD dosimeter from CPP) between January 1, 1963, and February 28, 1970, 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.”

A few weeks ago, the White House issued an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to cut the number of advisory board members by one third by September 2019.  Dr. Ziemer asked Ted Katz, the Designated Federal Official for the board, if the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health was subject to this order.  Mr. Katz said yes and that all committees are under review.  However, he said that this board undergoes a review ever two years and since it was reinstated in 2017, he doesn’t anticipate any problems.  Mr. Katz was also asked if he knew when a Chair will be appointed to the board.  The board has been without a Chair since Dr. Melius passed away in 2018.  Mr. Katz said that this issue is still with the White House.