EEOICPA BULLETIN NO.06-11                      

 

Issue Date: June 5, 2006

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Effective Date: September 24, 2005 ________________________________________________________________

 

Expiration Date: June 5, 2007

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Subject:  Supplemental Guidance for Processing Claims for the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Class for the Y-12 Plant, March 1943 – December 1947. 

 

Background:  On September 24, 2005, the following Y-12 class designation was added as a SEC employee class:

 

Department of Energy (DOE) employees or DOE contractor or subcontractor employees who worked in uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities at the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee from March 1943 through December 1947 and who were employed for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, either solely under this employment or in combination with work days within the parameters (excluding aggregate work day requirements) established for other classes of employees included in the SEC.

 

NIOSH has determined it is possible to estimate the radiation exposure that resulted from occupational medical X-ray doses alone to complete a sufficiently accurate dose reconstruction for this SEC class.  As such, for cases with a non-specified cancer and/or do not meet the employment criteria of the SEC class, NIOSH will perform a dose reconstructions based solely on X-ray dose.

 

On November 21, 2005, the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) issued Bulletin 06-04 which provided procedures for processing claims included in the Y-12 and Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) SEC classes.  This bulletin pertains only to the Y-12 SEC procedures; it does not affect any information related to the IAAP SEC class.

 

Since the issuance of Bulletin 06-04, DEEOIC has encountered difficulties in attempting to apply a standard for what constitutes “uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities,” and an employee’s involvement in such work.  The Y-12 facility is comprised of many different buildings where many different types of activities occurred. Some of locations or activities do not involve any work with radiological material.  It is also recognized that there are also many different labor categories at the site.

 

While certain workers were likely linked to routine uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities as part of their normal job functions, others would have a much lower likelihood of being exposed to these types of processes.  Accordingly, it was determined that development of accurate information needed to occur to identify work locations, job categories, and duties to link an employee to “uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities.” 

 

Radiation exposures at Y-12 during the SEC period resulted from uranium in various forms and occurred primarily in locations where the uranium was received, analyzed, chemically converted, and recycled and/or purified.  This SEC is based on the absence of internal or air sampling data for employees who were potentially routinely exposed to airborne concentrations of uranium products. 

 

During 1943 to 1947, Y-12’s primary function was to perform uranium enrichment using an electromagnetic isotope separator known as a “calutron.”  Calutrons were used to separate out enriched uranium from other uranium isotopes.  The concept was that the enriched uranium would be separated and preferentially captured onto a “receiver.”  The efficiency of the calutron process was limited and significant proportions of the enriched uranium were deposited on the liner (inside wall of the calutron) and on internal equipment before it made it to the receiver.  Uranium splattered on the inside of the calutron had to be recovered through labor-intensive cleaning operations.  The recovered uranium was then recycled, handled, and the enriched uranium was chemically separated. 

 

The calutrons provided little potential for internal exposures while in use, because the calutrons were fully closed systems operated under a high vacuum (negative pressure). The potential for significant airborne uranium concentration (internal exposure) occurred when the calutron was not operating, and partially disassembled, for the purpose of recovering enriched uranium from the calutron walls.  In addition, uranium was recovered/salvaged from components within the calutron.  Recovery of uranium from the calutron as a whole, involved manual cleaning, washing, vacuuming, and concentrated nitric acid leaching. Salvaging refers to the recovery of relatively smaller amounts of uranium from items associated with the recovery process, such as liquid and solid waste material from the calutron maintenance and/or clean-up activities.  The recovered uranium was chemically separated or recycled back through the calutron feed material. Therefore, the potential for uranium intake was significant during the recovery, handling, salvaging, and chemical separation phases.

 

The SEC designation covers employees who were routinely involved with uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities.  Employees performing other, non-uranium enrichment duties, but were routinely present within the buildings or areas where uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities occurred are also considered part of the SEC class. The DEEOIC does not construe the SEC designation to apply merely to any employee present at the Y-12 Plant during the designated time frame. 

 

After appropriate research using available data pertaining to the Y-12 Plant, the DEEOIC has developed resources to identify locations, work processes, and job categories with a high likelihood of routine involvement in “uranium enrichment operations and other radiological activities.”  This information is provided as attachments to this bulletin to assist the CE in determining whether an employee can be considered a member of this SEC class at Y-12.  During the course of evidentiary development for the SEC class, the CE must compare the employment information provided in the case to the information provided in this bulletin.

 

The information contained in this bulletin is supplemental to the guidance provided in EEOICPA Bulletin 06-04. In addition, it affects consideration of cases where the evidence of record establishes the existence of a qualified “specified cancer” and employment as a DOE employee, DOE contractor, or subcontractor at the Y-12 Plant is verified for 250 work days from March 1943 through December 1947.

 

References: Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.; 42 C.F.R. Part 83, report to Congress from the Secretary of HHS, entitled, “HHS Designation of Additional Members of the Special Exposure Cohort, Designating a Class of Employees from Y-12 Plant, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.”

 

Purpose: To provide guidance pertaining to the definition of the term, “uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities,” using site identifiers such as buildings, work duties, and work titles.

 

Applicability: All staff.

 

Actions:

 

1.  The CE is to ensure all cases considered for the SEC class satisfy the requirement that the employee worked in “uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities” at the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge.  This replaces the guidance specifically referenced in item number 3, in Bulletin 06-04, which states the CE would assume the employee was involved in the specified activities if a NIOSH referral had been performed prior to September 24, 2005.

 

2.  Once the CE has developed the case to satisfy the initial components of the SEC class, it is then necessary to make a determination as to whether the employee was involved in “uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities” for a period equal to or greater than 250 aggregate work days between March 1943 to the end of December 1947.  The CE should review all relevant employment documentation contained in the case file including any data that may have been obtained by NIOSH during development of a dose reconstruction, such as the CATI report, correspondence, DOE employment and other DOE records, and any dose assessment.  This information may be found on the NIOSH CD attached to the case file. NIOSH did not develop employee-specific analyses records or dose reconstructions for many of these Y-12 cases received prior to the SEC designation date; therefore, the NIOSH CDs for these cases may not contain adequate information for the purpose of adjudication.  The CE may also use any available programmatic resources including:  DAR requests, ORISE database, Site Exposure Matrix (SEM), occupational interviews conducted by the DEEOIC resource center, claimant requests, etc.  Other relevant information pertaining to employment activities may also be contained in former Part D case material. 

 

3. Attachment 1 provides a list of those positions the DEEOIC accepts were affiliated with uranium enrichment operations at the Y-12 Plant.  The list includes job title strings (abbreviations) that DOE records may reference, as well as the actual job title.  The list is not all-inclusive, but gives a good basis for the type of job titles that were routinely affiliated with uranium enrichment operations.  Attachment 2 provides a list of buildings where uranium enrichment operations or other processes relating to radiological material were conducted.  Attachment 3 provides example descriptive terms for the processes known to be linked to uranium enrichment operations.  Attachment 4 describes “other radiological activities” and associated job titles.  The “other radiological activities” most likely took place in the main research and development (R & D) building, 9202.  Support for these covered R & D activities may have also taken place at the analytical lab (building 9203) located behind the R & D building. All the attachments serve to provide guidance to the CE in evaluating the evidence to make an informed judgment as to whether it is reasonable to conclude employment in uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities occurred.   

 

4.  In those instances where the evidence of record substantiates the employee routinely worked in a position or at a location linked to uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities (from attachment 1-4), the CE can accept the employee is included in the SEC class, if all other criteria are satisfied.  Based on the information presented, the CE should make a rationalized judgment as to whether the employee performed routine duties connected to uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities. The totality of evidence must be sufficiently affirming to convince the adjudicator that the claim presented is reasonably accurate and is not based merely on ambiguous statements provided by the claimant. For example, a claim is presented from a survivor who states her father’s job entailed scraping uranium from the machine walls at the Y-12 Plant.  DOE confirms the employee worked at the Y-12 Plant from 1945-1955 .  An accident reports shows that the employee lacerated his arm during process recovery operations in the plant.  Given that attachments 1-3 establish uranium recovery and recycling operations are affiliated with uranium enrichment operations, and employment occurred for two years during the SEC period, the CE should accept the employee as part of the SEC. No development is needed to confirm the employee’s job title or plant location of his work.  A comparison between the claimant’s statements and available employee-specific data, and the collective information contained in Attachments 1-4, provides a sufficient basis for evaluating the claim.

 

5.  Alternatively, in a situation where an employee is identified as having worked a position that is not referenced in the attachments and it is unclear what location at the plant he routinely worked, but the evidence demonstrates the employee worked an “operational support” role; the employee may be included in the SEC class.  “Operational support” roles are defined as any job or position that would have a likelihood of routine employment activities within any building at the Y-12 plant involving uranium enrichment or other radiological activities.  This includes jobs such as electricians, pipe fitters, welders, etc.  For example, a survivor claim is presented where the family does not know the precise job title of the employee, but they know he was a pipe-fitter.  DOE confirms employment at Y-12, but provides no other information other than the employee was present at the site from March 1945 to April 1962.  A co-worker affidavit states he knew the employee and he remembers the employee worked inside several large buildings performing checks and routine maintenance on large machines whenever they were shut down.  In this instance, the CE accepts the employee as a member of the SEC given the high likelihood that he performed employment activities linked to uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities. The CE should make specific findings in the recommended decision that lead to this conclusion.

 

However, if there is specific evidence the employee worked in an “operational support” position, but did not have employment activities that brought him into routine contact with one of the recognized building locations affiliated with uranium enrichment or other radiological activities, the benefit of the doubt cannot be extended to the employee. This would occur if the employee was specifically assigned to work in one location not accepted as being linked to uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities.  It can also apply to employees whose position was limited to working exterior locations at the plant.  Under circumstances where specific and contradictory exists to exclude an “operations support” employee from the SEC class, the CE must undertake additional development of the claim. 

 

6.  If the evidence of record indicates that the employee worked in a position that is neither listed in the attachments to this bulletin nor reasonably considered “operational support” full development must be undertaken to determine if the employment satisfies the requirements of this SEC.  The CE can not grant these employees the benefit of the doubt when it comes to inclusion in Y-12 SEC class.  This would pertain to individuals employed in positions with a low likelihood of being routinely involved in uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities.  For example, administrative and support staff, cafeteria workers, construction workers, couriers, custodians, groundskeepers, housekeepers, machinists, security guards, or similar occupational titles and duties are not likely to have been routinely involved in, or routinely located within, buildings associated with uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities.  As such, compelling evidence would need to be submitted to show that such employees worked within one of the recognized buildings or facility locations accepted by DEEOIC as having involvement in uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities. They would also need to satisfy the 250 aggregate work-day requirement during the relevant time period. 

 

7.  Ultimately, the evidence must establish a reasonable connection to uranium enrichment operations or other radiological activities as outlined in this directive.  If, after appropriate development, the evidence does not establish the requirements of the SEC, the CE should proceed in accordance with Item 9.   

 

8.  Once the CE has determined that the employee has a diagnosed specified cancer and meets the employment criteria of this Y-12 SEC class, the CE should proceed in the usual manner for a compensable SEC claim and prepare a recommended decision.

 

9.              As discussed earlier, NOISH determined that it is feasible to estimate the exposure that resulted from annual occupational medical X-ray doses.  For cases with a non-specified cancer and/or that do not meet the employment criteria of the SEC class, the CE must refer the case back to NIOSH to perform dose reconstructions.

 


Disposition:  Retain until incorporated in the Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual.

 

 

 

PETER M. TURCIC

Director, Division of Energy Employees

Occupational Illness Compensation

 

Attachment 1 

Attachment 2

Attachment 3

Attachment 4

 

Distribution List No. 1: Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, and District Office Mail & File Sections