Nominations sought for new advisory board on sick nuclear worker compensation program

The U.S. Labor Department is seeking nominations for a newly created Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health for Part E of the compensation program for employees made sick by working in the nuclear weapons program.

Sick workers and their advocates have fought to years to get added input into the decisionmaking process for the compensation program, and this board — created by Executive Order last year — apparently was the result of those efforts and a Government Accountability Office report in 2010 that recommended an additional advisory board to oversee the process. Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Program provides for compensation up to $250,000 and medical care for those made sick by exposures to toxic substances in the workplace. (Part B of the compensation program is for cancers caused by radiation exposures.)

Here’s the Federal Register notice on the new advisory board, which can have up to 15 members.

The Labor Department’s news release said the department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs is looking forward to working with “individuals committed to the well-being of nuclear weapons workers who sacrificed for our nation.” Leonard J. Howie III, the director of the office, said in a statement, “The advice of the new board members on the technical aspects of this important program will be invaluable.”

Terrie Barrie of the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups (ANWAG) said it’s critical that these advisory board members look out for the interest of sick workers and add viewpoints and expertise that are independent of the government entities.

Nominations are due by Aug. 20, 2015.

The Labor Department said it intends for a third of the membership on the board to come from the scientific community, with another third from the medical community and a third from the “claimant community.”

More information on how to do nominations is available in the Federal Register notice.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.