The Department of Energy has been forced to shell out $800 million dollars in medical expenses to cover for the radiation exposure during the Cold War of around 8,000 current and former employees at the Savannah River Plant, Stars and Stripes reports.
The program, called the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, has spent a total of $11 billion dollars to accommodate 104,000 workers who have been exposed to hazardous materials. Since 2000, the program has received claims dating 50 years back from workers who at the time didn’t always know what materials they were being exposed to. Often times, neither did their spouses. Verifying these claims are often difficult, leading to a denial rate of up to 50 percent at some sites.
A 2008 study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that at the Savannah River Plant in Aiken, South Carolina, many workers suffered from elevated rates of leukemia and pleural cancer, owing to radiation and asbestos exposure. To carry out the study, researchers obtained exposure records and government death records, comparing the number and cause of deaths to the national average. Only a limited number of hazardous agents were examined.
“The chance of fatal leukemia was 25% higher in workers exposed to one rem of radiation, though this risk was found to lessen 15 years after the exposure,” researchers found.
Unfortunately, the process to claim lump sum payments is incredibly complex, and the burden of proof is difficult to overcome.
Written by: JONAH BENNETT – continue at DAILY CALLER