Shaping Smarter Regulations

Nuclear Weapons Workers Illness Compensation Program

The Final Rules which govern the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program should be changed to reflect Congressional intent to compensate workers who developed serious and sometimes fatal diseases from exposures to toxic substances at the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons facilities.

 

Below are a few suggestions that will help achieve this goal.

 

Reword section 30.111 to remove the claimant's burden of providing by a preponderance of the evidence proof of exposure under Part E. If claimants had the DOE records there likely would not need to be a federal program. DOE contractors did not monitor for exposures to toxic substances such as metal dusts, solvents, other chemicals, especially in the early years. In fact, there are problems with monitoring for these toxic substances to this day. The exposure to the Hanford Tank Farm workers last year is a prime example of failure to monitor the workers adequately.

 

Create a presumptive disease list. Econometrica developed such a list under contract with DEEOIC. DOL should use this to streamline the claims process. They are using Final Circulars 15-5 and 15-06 to streamline the claims process. However, these Final Circulars will likely deny claims initially. On the other hand, the Econometrica report will likely assist claimants with getting approved.

 

Uranium miners, millers and transporters are covered under the law for certain diseases due to their workplace exposure. Those same diseases should automatically be covered for DOE weapons workers who were exposed to uranium.

 

DOL should add one more step in the appeals process. They should set up a process for a claimant to appeal to an independent Administrative Law Judge if they disagree with a Final Decision issued by the Final Adjudication Branch.

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Idea No. 51