ANWAG urges Labor Dept. to extend comment period on rule changes for compensation program

The Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups is asking Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to extend the comment period for proposed rule changes to the federal compensation program for sick nuclear workers.

The comment period is scheduled to end Jan. 19.

In a letter to Perez, Deb Jerison of ANWAG asked the Labor Department to extend the comment deadline until the newly created Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health has been seated and functioning so that board members can participate in the review of rule changes.

ANWAG is pushing Perez to move forward with the selection of advisory board members.

“It has been over a year since the legislation creating the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health was enacted,” Jerison wrote to Perez. “The statute required that the board be seated within 120 days of enactment. Yet the final selection of the members has not been finalized more than 365 days after enactment.”

Terrie Barrie of ANWAG said she was generally opposed to the proposed to the rule changes and wants the Labor Department fo “withdraw the rules and start all over again, in conjunction with stakeholders and the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health.”

Jerison said some of the proposed changes will make it harder for workers to get claims approved — or even filed — with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Program.

“And some (changes) are going to make it a lot hard to get the medical care,” she said. “I kind of feel like the Labor Department may be trying to do an end around.”

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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.