The Buffalo News

Schumer wants hearing on radiation in Buffalo

12/2/2004

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the federal government to release a long-awaited audit of a compensation program affecting hundreds of local people in Buffalo, not California.

Schumer and others have blasted a decision by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to withhold an audit of the calculations used to determine how much radiation workers at Bethlehem Steel Corp. were exposed to when the federal government rolled uranium at the Lackawanna plant after World War II.

An advisory board is set to discuss the audit publicly later this month outside San Francisco.

"It's unconscionable that after all the federal government has put these workers through, they are now asking the Bethlehem Steel workers to travel clear across the country on their own dime to participate in any kind of discussion of the results of the audit," Schumer said.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation program was set up to provide a $150,000 payment and other benefits to people who worked on atomic weapons programs, were unknowingly exposed to radiation and subsequently got cancer.

Many local claimants believe the Bethlehem Steel formula drastically underestimated their exposure at the plant, resulting in the denial of their claims.

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