U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter

28th NY Congressional District

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P R E S S R E L E A S E

2469 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C. 20515 http://www.house.gov/slaughter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Ellia Thompson

January 16, 2003 Direct: 202-225-8415

ellia.thompson@mail.house.gov

SLAUGHTER REACTS TO THE LONG-AWAITED RELEASE OF NUCLEAR CONTAMINATION STUDY

ROCHESTER - Upon learning that the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health finally released its study of residual contamination of former Dept. of Energy and atomic weapons contractors sites, Rep. Louise Slaughter issued the following statement:

"As an early supporter of this program, I am terribly troubled that my constituents are being forced to negotiate a labyrinth to get the assistance they deserve. Changes need to be made to the program to guarantee access for this aging and ill population. Time is of the essence."

“This is a crucial issue for thousands of people in my district as it affects former workers of more than 12 factories in the Buffalo/Niagara region as well as one in Rochester,” said Slaughter.

The list of factories in these areas include: Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna; Bliss and Laughlin Steel and Linde Air Products, and Utica St. Warehouse in Buffalo; Linde Ceramics Plant, Ashland Oil and Seaway Industrial Park in Tonawanda; Electro Metallurgical, Hooker Electrochemical, Lake Ontario Ordinance Works and Titanium Alloys Manufacturing in Niagara Falls; Simonds Saw and Steel Co in Lockport; and Univ. of Rochester Medical Labs in Rochester.

“The dates of coverage must be expanded at these sites so that workers sick with related illnesses receive timely benefits. Today, the burden of proof for unhealthy workers attempting to qualify for this program is often unachievable. At times, workers must produce documents more than 50 years old from companies that are no longer in existence.”

In the last Congress, Slaughter was an original co-sponsor of legislation to make important technical corrections to the program. It would designate the Dept. of Labor as the “willing payor” of benefits approved by the Dept. of Energy. This legislation would also have expanded the dates of coverage for beryllium vendors and atomic weapons employer facilities based on findings in the final version NIOSH report that is expected to be sent to Congress sometime this spring.

"We have a moral obligation to help those who sacrificed their health to provide a strong national defense during the Cold War."

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