According to the producer of a documentary coming to Portsmouth, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act has paid out over $942 million to nuclear workers in the state of Ohio and $740 million of that was awarded to people who worked at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant alone.
On May 11, at 7 p.m. Tony West will bring his award-winning documentary – “The Safe Side of the Fence,” to the Portsmouth Cinemas.
The film, produced in St. Louis, Missouri, tells the story of the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works workers who helped refine the uranium for the world’s first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction done by Enrico Fermi in Chicago for the famed Manhattan Project.
West says – as a result of their work, the Mallinckrodt workers would become some of the most contaminated nuclear workers in history.
Denise Brock, the daughter of two Mallinckrodt workers would fight to expand the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. That program was created to compensate workers who became ill from their weapons work during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.
West says the program has paid out over $942 million to workers and their family members in the state of Ohio with $740 million of that going to the Portsmouth Gasseous Diffusion Plant alone. He said Portsmouth is one of the original four SEC sites.
Portsmouth attorney Franklin T. Gerlach deals with Cold War cases on a regular basis.
“The total payments to Portsmouth employees at the A-Plant, which includes medical benefits under Parts B and E, are $726,065,620,” Gerlach told the Daily Times.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez announced the inaugural appointees and the date of the first meeting of the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health for Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
The EEOICPA provides compensation and medical benefits to nuclear weapons workers diagnosed with medical conditions caused by their exposure to toxic substances at covered nuclear facilities. Executive Order 13699 directed the department to establish the advisory board.
“We look forward to working with advisory board members, each of whom is committed to the well-being of the nation’s nuclear weapons workers,” said Secretary Perez. “The expert advice of the new board members on the technical aspects of the EEOICPA will be invaluable in strengthening and improving this important program.”
“This will be a big help for those claimants because if the Department of Labor isn’t doing what you think they should be doing, you have a place to go to say – ‘hey, this is happening. What can you do about it?’” Gerlach said. “It gives you sort of an appeal to a group that could modify their rules and regulations and look into things or if there is something gone amiss, you can do that.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.