Former Rocky Flats workers encouraged by decision on illness claims
DENVER – With some Rocky Flats workers saying time is running out for them, a federal panel decide on Thursday to take more time to consider a petition that seeks compensation for employees who became ill after working at the nuclear weapons plant.”The petition is still alive,” said Tony DeMaiori, a former president of the United Steelworkers of America, Local 8031.About 10,000 people who worked at the former nuclear weapons plant between Denver and Boulder want to be classified under a program that makes workers at a Department of Energy site immediately and automatically eligible for medical coverage and compensation. Workers wouldn’t have to file individual health claims.The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended against the petition filed by Rocky Flats workers more than a year ago. The agency said it’s feasible to determine in individual cases whether an employee’s exposure to radioactive materials can be tied to an illness.The union counters that the records can’t adequately establish those connections.An advisory board appointed by President Bush made its decision to more time after a consultant raised questions about the data.During a public hearing Wednesday, former employees and their families told the panel that time is running out for many of them. One of the employees was George Barrie, a former machinist who has a precancerous stomach condition.
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