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Former Linde Ceramics Workers Submit Petitions to National Institute for Occupational and Health (NIOSH) Seeking Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Status under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Program Act- (EEOICPA)

Department of Labor subjects former Linde workers to an injustice that is a national disgrace

Re-designation decision flies in the face of Federal Law

Former Linde nuclear workers frustrated after years of denied compensation:

Administrative burdens leave workers with burden of proof for unwitting radiation exposure.

Today, former Linde workers submit their petitions to NIOSH seeking Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Status under the Energy Employess Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act - (EEOICPA). Unknown to them former Linde workers were subjected to years of radiation exposure while in the service of this nation. SEC status would eliminate the significant administrative burdens placed on workers. Burdens that nationwide have resulted in the denial of 68% of claims for compersation for these courageous men and women who were essentially used by our government in the war effort and then forgotten. The Director of NIOSH'S Office of Compensation Analysis and Support (OCAS) Larry Elliott reported that as of 12/31/2007, a total of 11,600 cases of the 17,074 compensation cases reviewed by NIOSH were rejected.

"That is a 68% rejection rate. A system that is supposed to be "claimant friendly" but at the same time has a 68% denial rate has clearly not succeeded," said Joseph Sebastian, a Linde worker spokesperson and a former Linde worker.

Burdens that have resulted in the denial of 51% of claims for compensation from Linde workers. At Linde as of Febuary 27, 2008, of 138 claims submitted to NIOSH for compensation 70 claims have been denied by NIOSH and the Department of labor.

Moreover, workers who appealed the denial of these claims have a 1.2% chance of seeing that claim approved after being sujected to a very long and tortuous appeal process that for 98.8% of the claimants is an exercise in futility. Director Elliott reported that as of 12/31/2007, of the 13,077 cases re-submitted for re-evaluation review only 157 cases were eventually approved for compensation.

Former Linde workers are now facing an unforseen hurdle resulting from a recent decision by the Department of Labor that eliminated Linde residual radiation workers from all coverage under EEOICPA despite legislative reforms enacted by Congress in 2004 specifically designed to compensate residual radiation workers.

The EEOICPA requiring wokers to prove that their cancers resulted from radiation exposure has become a bureaucratic nightmare. Workers have no fair and equitable chance to navigate this program and the only way for Linde workers to overcome this fundamental unfairness is to have the Linde facility designated as a SEC.

The Department of Labor is circumventing the precise intent of the Residual Radioactive Contamination Compensation Act of 2004 by unilaterally making decisions without notice to workers, without sufficient explanation and without any information as to how Linde workers may appeal the decision. The decision ignores the great sacrifice from these workers and ignores the history and vital role that former nuclear weapons workers in Western New York played during World War II and during the Cold War.

Linde workers demand that the Department of Labor stop dragging its feet and provide the linde workers the opportunity to appeal this decision. Also, the DOL must immediately comply with requests to provide all of the documentation used to arrive at the re-designation decision. Finally, the DOL must be forthcoming as to how many other facilities across the nation are at risk of having thousands of residual radiation workers eliminated from eligibility under EEOICPA.

To continue to subject Linde workers to such an injustice that flies in the face of Federal Law is a national disgrace for which the Department of Labor must be held accountable.

Senator Schumer, in support of Linde workers, say's: "The men and women at Linde sacrificed their own health and well being for the advance and security of our country at a time when we needed it most. It is unthinkable that the government would do anything to jeapordize their compensation or call into question our profound gratitude for all that they did. Today is an opportunity for the federal government to step in and ensure these heroic workers receive the compensation they deserve, and I will fight tooth and nail to see it through."

Similarly, Senator Clinton stated: "The men and women of Linde Ceramics played a critical role in defense of our nation during the height of the Cold War. Like many nuclear workers in New York and across our country, they unknowingly sacrificed their health and well being as a result of exposure to dangerous levels of radiation." Additionally, Senator Clinton explained "The government failed to tell them what they were working with, and did not provide them with safety equipment or monitor how much radiation they were being exposed to. The Linde workers have played by the rules, and have waded through the morass of bureaucratic red tape to file a petition for special exposure cohort status. Now it is time the government to make things right for these forgotten heroes of the Cold War.

Finally, Representative Louise Slaughter said "The Atomic Energy Workers at Linde were robbed of their health while working to defend and secure America for future generations. It is simply disgraceful that these brave men and women have had to wait so long for the compensation they deserve. Special Exposure Cohort status would help remove significant barriers that are preventing eligible workers from receiving the payments that are entitled to them under the law."

 

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