GAO reports nuclear workers face long delays on illness claims
The report examined the effectiveness of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, which provides compensation to workers and their survivors for occupational diseases arising from toxic and radiation exposure in the government's nuclear weapons program. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, requested the study after receiving complaints about delayed compensation, difficulty navigating the program, and inconsistencies with the adjudication process.
The audit found that some claimants had to wait three years for the government to rule on their case. The GAO noted that Congress has established a Presidential Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health which regularly evaluates the quality and scientific soundness of radiation dose assessments, site profiles, and presumptive compensation evaluations that are conducted by the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health. However, researchers said there is a gap because there is no comparable body to oversee the "quality, objectivity and consistency of the Department of Labor consultant physicians' work and no independent expert review of the scientific soundness of the detailed information in site exposure" matrices used in screening cases for compensability.
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April 26, 2010
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