|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR||EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ADMINISTRATION |
OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS
DIVISION OF ENERGY EMPLOYEES OCCUPATIONAL
FINAL ADJUDICATION BRANCH
June 20, 2003
NOTICE OF FINAL DECISION
This is the decision of the Final Adjudication Branch concerning your claims for compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA or the Act). See 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq. Upon a careful review of the facts and an independent review of the record, the Final Adjudication Branch concludes that the evidence of record is insufficient to allow compensation under the Act. Accordingly, your claims for benefits are denied.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On April 11, 2002, [Claimant 1] filed a Form EE-2 (Claim for Survivor Benefits under the EEOICPA), stating that he was the son of [Employee], who was diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer. An additional claim followed thereafter from [Claimant 2] on October 20, 2002. [Claimant 1] also completed a Form EE-3, Employment History, indicating that [Employee] worked for Standard Oil Company, from 1950 to 1961; the State of Alaska as Deputy Director of Veterans Affairs, from 1961 to 1964; the State of Alaska Department of Military Affairs, Alaska Disaster Office, from 1965 to 1979 (where it was believed he wore a dosimetry badge); and, for the American Legion from 1979 to 1985.
In correspondence dated June 24, 2002, a representative of the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated that they had no employment information regarding [Employee], but that he had been issued film badges at the Amchitka Test Site on the following dates: October 28, 1965; September 30, 1969; and, September 21, 1970. You also submitted a completed Form EE-4 (Employment Affidavit) signed by Don Lowell, your father’s supervisor at the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety, Division of Civil Defense. According to Mr. Lowell, your father was a radiological officer for the State of Alaska and accompanied him to Amchitka Island for Project Longshot on November 29, 1965, and the Milrow Test on October 2, 1969, as a representative of the State of Alaska.
Additional documentation submitted in support of your claim included copies of your birth certificates, a marriage certificate documenting [Name of Claimant 2 at Birth]’s marriage to [Husband], and the death certificate for [Employee], indicating that he was widowed at the time of his death on May 10, 1993. In addition, you provided medical documentation reflecting a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the pharyngeal wall in November 1991.
On November 8, 2002, the Seattle district office issued a recommended decision that concluded that [Employee] was a covered employee as defined in § 7384l(9)(A) of the Act and an eligible member of the Special Exposure Cohort as defined in § 7384l(14)(B) of the EEOICPA, who was diagnosed as having a specified cancer, specifically cancer of the hypopharynx, as defined in § 7384l(17) of the Act. See 42 U.S.C. 7384l(9)(A), (14)(B), (17). The district office further concluded that you were eligible survivors of [Employee] as outlined in § 7384s(e)(3) of the Act, and that you were each entitled to compensation in the amount of $75,000 pursuant to § 7384s(a)(1) and (e)(1) of the EEOICPA. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384s(a)(1) and (e)(1).
On December 20, 2002, the Final Adjudication Branch issued a Remand Order in this case on the basis that the evidence of record did not establish that [Employee] was a member of the “Special Exposure Cohort,” as required by the Act. The Seattle district office was specifically directed to determine whether the Department of Energy and the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety, Division of Civil Defense, had a contractual relationship.
In correspondence dated January 17, 2003, Don Lowell elaborated further on your father’s employment and his reasons for attending the nuclear testing on Amchitka Island. According to Mr. Lowell, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) invited the governors of Alaska to send representatives to witness all three tests on Amchitka Island (Longshot, Milrow, and Cannikin). As such, [Employee] attended both the Longshot and Milrow tests as a guest of the Atomic Energy Commission, which provided transportation, housing and food, and assured the safety and security of those representatives.
On February 4, 2003, the district office received an electronic mail transmission from Karen Hatch, Records Management Program Officer at the National Nuclear Security Agency. Ms. Hatch indicated that she had been informed by the former senior DOE Operations Manager on Amchitka Island that escorts were not on the site to perform work for the AEC, but were most likely there to provide a service to the officials from the State of Alaska.
In correspondence dated February 11, 2003, a representative of the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety, Division of Administrative Services, indicated that there was no mention of Amchitka or any sort of agreement with the Department of Energy in [Employee]’s personnel records, but that the absence of such reference did not mean that he did not go to Amchitka or that a contract did not exist. He further explained that temporary assignments were not always reflected in these records and suggested that the district office contact the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to see if they had any record of an agreement between the State of Alaska and the DOE. By letter dated March 13, 2003, the district office contacted the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and requested clarification as to [Employee]’s employment with the State of Alaska and assignment(s) to Amchitka Island. No response to this request was received.
On April 16, 2003, the S eattle district office recommended denial of your claims. The district office concluded that you did not submit employment evidence as proof that [Employee] was a member of the “Special Exposure Cohort” as defined by § 7384l(14)(B) of the Act, as the evidence did not establish that he had been present at a covered facility as defined under § 7384l(12) of the Act, while working for the Department of Energy or any of its covered contractors, subcontractors or vendors as defined under § 7384l(11) of the Act, during a covered time period. See 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(11), (12). The district office further concluded that you were not entitled to compensation as outlined under § 7384s(e)(1) of the Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 7384s(e)(1).
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On April 11 and October 20, 2002, [Claimant 1] and [Claimant 2], respectively, filed claims for survivor benefits under the EEOICPA as the children of [Employee].
2. [Employee] was diagnosed as having squamous cell carcinoma of the hypopharynx.
3. [Employee] was employed by the State of Alaska, Civil Defense Division, and was present on Amchitka Island for Project Longshot on November 29, 1965, and the Milrow Test on October 2, 1969.
4. [Employee]’s employment with the State of Alaska, Civil Defense Division, on assignment to Amchitka Island, Alaska, was as a representative of the governor of Alaska.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The undersigned has reviewed the recommended decision issued by the Seattle district office on April 16, 2003. I find that you have not filed any objections to the recommended decision as provided by § 30.316(a) of the regulations, and that the 60-day period for filing such objections, as provided for in § 30.310(a) has expired. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 30.310(a), 30.316(a).
In order to be awarded benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, the covered employee (or his/her eligible survivors), must first establish that the employee has been diagnosed with beryllium illness, cancer, or chronic silicosis. See 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(15), 20 C.F.R. § 30.110(a). The evidence to show proof of an occupational illness is not in dispute in this case. The medical evidence establishes that [Employee] was diagnosed as having squamous cell carcinoma of the hypopharynx. Consequently, [Employee] was diagnosed with an illness covered under the Act.
Employees of a DOE contractor (or their eligible survivors) are entitled under the EEOICPA to seek compensation for a cancer as a member of the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) or through a determination that they incurred cancer that was at least as likely as not related to employment at a DOE facility. 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384l(14), 7384l(9)(B)(ii)(II). To be included in the SEC, a DOE employee, DOE contractor employee, or atomic weapons employee must have been employed for an aggregate of 250 work days before February 1, 1992, at a gaseous diffusion plant located in Paducah, Kentucky, Portsmouth, Ohio, or Oak Ridge, Tennessee, or employed before January 1, 1974, by the DOE or a DOE contractor or subcontractor on Amchitka Island, Alaska, and exposed to ionizing radiation in the performance of duty related to the Long Shot, Milrow, or Cannikin underground nuclear tests. 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(14). To qualify as a covered employee with cancer, members of the SEC need only establish that they contracted a "specified cancer," designated in § 7384l(17) of the EEOICPA, after beginning employment at a DOE facility or atomic weapons employer facility.
While the EEOICPA does not contain a specific definition of a DOE contractor, it does contain a definition of a DOE contractor employee that, in effect, defines what a DOE contractor is. Section 7384l(11) of the EEOICPA defines a DOE contractor employee as:
(A) An individual who is or was in residence at a Department of Energy facility as a researcher for one or more periods aggregating at least 24 months.
(B) An individual who is or was employed at a Department of Energy facility by-
(i) an entity that contracted with the Department of Energy to provide management and operating, management and integration, or environmental remediation at the facility; or
(ii) a contractor or subcontractor that provided services, including construction and maintenance, at the facility.
The question presented in this case is whether [Employee], an employee of the State of Alaska, was, during the time he spent on Amchitka Island, providing management and operation, management and integration or environmental remediation services under a contract between the DOE and the State of Alaska.
The undersigned notes that the Atomic Energy Commission’s Managers Completion Report refers to the State of Alaska as a prime contractor for work on Milrow and Cannikin. The work to be performed under that contract consisted of police protection.
According to Don Lowell, [Employee]’s supervisor at the time of his assignment to Amchitka Island, your father was not an employee of any contractor or the AEC at the time of his visit to Amchitka Island. Rather, he was an invited guest of the AEC requested to witness the atomic testing as a representative of the governor of Alaska.
The preponderance of the evidence in this case supports the conclusion that [Employee] was on Amchitka Island for the sole purpose of witnessing the atomic testing as a representative of the governor of Alaska. While the DOE indicated that [Employee] was issued a dosimetry badge on three occasions, such evidence may be used to establish that he was present on Amchitka Island, not to establish that he was a covered DOE employee. Therefore, [Employee]’s presence on Amchitka Island was to perform work for the State of Alaska, as a representative of the governor, and not pursuant to a contract between the DOE and the State of Alaska.
It is the claimant’s responsibility to establish entitlement to benefits under the EEOICPA. The EEOICPA regulations at § 30.111(a) state that the claimant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence, the existence of each and every criterion under any compensable claim category set forth in § 30.110. Proof by a preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the proposition to be proved is true. Subject to the exceptions expressly provided in the Act and regulations, the claimant also bears the burden of providing the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs all written medical documentation, contemporaneous records, or other records and documents necessary to establish any and all criteria for benefits set forth in the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 30.111(a).
Although you submitted medical evidence to show a covered illness manifested by squamous cell carcinoma of the hypopharynx, the evidence of record is insufficient to establish that [Employee] engaged in covered employment. Therefore, your claims must be denied for lack of proof of covered employment under the EEOICPA.
Rosanne M. Dummer
Seattle District Manager, Final Adjudication Branch