EEOICPA BULLETIN NO.07-05                      

 

Issue Date: January 11, 2007

________________________________________________________________

 

Effective Date: July 26, 2006 ________________________________________________________________

 

Expiration Date: January 11, 2008

________________________________________________________________

 

Subject:  Supplemental Guidance for Processing Claims for Pacific Proving Grounds SEC Class, 1946 – 1962.

 

Background:  On July 26, 2006, the following Pacific Proving Grounds class designation was added as an SEC employee class:

 

Department of Energy (DOE) employees or DOE contractor or subcontractor employees who worked at the Pacific Proving Grounds (PPG) from 1946 through 1962 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, and who were monitored or should have been monitored.

 

NIOSH has determined it can reconstruct occupational external dose using currently available film badge monitoring data or field radiation surveys. Also, NIOSH can determine exposure from occupational medical x-rays. As such, for cases with a non-specified cancer and/or that do not meet the employment criteria of the SEC class, NIOSH will perform dose reconstructions based on external occupational doses and occupational medical x-rays.

 

On September 27, 2006, the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) issued Bulletin 06-15 which provided procedures for processing claims for PPG SEC class.

 

Under Item 5 of Bulletin 06-15, procedures were established to verify covered SEC employment at PPG. In determining the actual employment period, Item #5 states that there must be clear and convincing evidence of a beginning date (hire) and end date (termination) of employment at the PPG. It further instructed the Claims Examiner (CE) to await further policy guidance before proceeding with the verification of covered SEC employment at PPG if there is no clear and convincing evidence of a beginning and end date of employment at the PPG.  

 

After appropriate research, DEEOIC has developed additional guidance to verify covered SEC employment absent clear and convincing employment evidence. Film badge records are now to be used to determine start and end dates of employment at the PPG.

 

The information contained in this bulletin is supplemental to the guidance provided in EEOICPA Bulletin 06-15.

 

References: Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.; 42 C.F.R. Part 83, Procedures for Designating Classes of Employees as Members of the Special Exposure Cohort under EEOICPA; the June 26, 2006 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 Pacific Proving Grounds, Enewetak Atoll.”

 

Purpose: To provide additional guidance on verifying covered SEC employment at PPG.

 

Applicability: All staff. 

 

Actions:

 

1.  This bulletin is in addition to the guidance specifically referenced in Item 5 of Bulletin 06-15. The CE should continue to refer to Bulletin 06-15 for all other procedures on processing PPG SEC class cases.

 

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 at the PPG for a period equal to or greater than 250 aggregate work days from 1946 through 1962. As noted in Item 5 of Bulletin 06-15, the CE must have clear and convincing evidence of a beginning employment date (hire) and end date (termination) of employment at the PPG.

 

Absent evidence of hire and end dates of employment, the CE may utilize external film badge (dosimetry) records to establish covered employment at PPG. As confirmed by DEEOIC, employees working at PPG during its SEC period were issued individual film badges to monitor for radiation exposure. These individual film badges were generally issued for one day, one week or a month depending on potential exposure to the individual. Typically, film badge records would include the issue date and the end (return) date which can be used to document employment periods at the PPG.

 

As noted for this SEC class in Bulletin 06-15, continuous time spent (including working or living) at PPG is credited toward the calculation of 250 work days. If the film badge records include an issue date and end (return) date within the PPG SEC time period, the CE is to credit the employee with the equivalent of three (8-hour) work days for each date the employee was badged, inclusive of the issue date and end (return) date. For example, an employee with a film badge with the issue date of 3/27/1954 and the end (return) date of 3/31/1954 would be credited with 15 (8-hour) work days.  

 

As discussed previously, NIOSH has indicated that it can reconstruct occupational external dose using currently available film badge monitoring data or field radiation surveys. As part of its dose reconstruction process, NIOSH may already have obtained relevant employment documentation such as complete film badge records for the employee, CATI report, correspondence, and other DOE records useful in determining SEC employment at PPG. This information may be found on the NIOSH CD attached to the case file. The CE must inspect these records carefully to determine whether any film badge monitoring data is available that can be used to verify employment at the PPG.

 

DEEOIC has also confirmed that the Nevada Operations Office (DOE employment verifier for PPG) has extensive records for employees who worked at PPG during its SEC time period. In the case of employees of Holmes and Narver (civilian support contractor at PPG), Nevada Operations Office would have the actual employment dates. Nevada Operations Office also has film badge records of most employees who worked at the PPG during its SEC time period.

 

In responding to previous Form EE-5 (Employment Verification) request by the DEEOIC, Nevada Operations Office would, in some instances, include only the date (often just the year) that a film badge was issued without an end (return) date. There may be additional film badge records including end (return) date not provided by Nevada Operations Office in their initial response to Form EE-5. In cases in which a Form EE-5 has already been submitted and responded to by the Nevada Operations Office but the film badge records appear incomplete (for example, no return date of the film badge or just the year issued and the NIOSH records do not contain any relevant dosimetry data) the CE may request the film badge records including the complete issue and return dates by calling the point of contact (POC) at Nevada Operations Office and following up with email if necessary. Do not complete another Form EE-5 if one has already been responded to by Nevada Operations Office. If the case file contains the NIOSH CD used for dose reconstruction, the CE should assume that the film badge record received by NIOSH is complete and there is no need to contact the POC unless evidence clearly indicates that NIOSH has not yet requested or received the complete film badge records for the SEC period.

 

DEEOIC has confirmed that the Nevada Operations Office will now provide dosimetry records to include all available issue and return dates on all responses to new Form EE-5 submissions for PPG. The CE should assume that the responses to new Form EE-5 from Nevada Operations Office are complete as of December 18, 2006.      

 

Since continuous time spent at PPG is credited toward the calculation of 250 work day, it is important that clear and convincing evidence is used to determine employment at the PPG. In cases where the Nevada Operations Center confirmed that they only have the date the film badge was issued at PPG but no end (return) date, the CE may only credit the employee with the equivalent of three (8-hour) work days for the date the film badge was issued. The CE may not assume that an employee was at the PPG between two issue dates even if the two film badges (absent end dates) were issued between short intervals of time.  

 

4. In developing the 250 work day requirement, the CE must consider employment either solely at the PPG or in combination with work days for other SEC classes. In some cases, employees who worked at the PPG would also work at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). NTS is a SEC class for the period from January 27, 1951 to 1962.

 

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

 

6. 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

 

 

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