|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR||EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ADMINISTRATION |
OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS
DIVISION OF ENERGY EMPLOYEES OCCUPATIONAL
FINAL ADJUDICATION BRANCH
March 15, 2004
NOTICE OF FINAL DECISION
REVIEW OF THE WRITTEN RECORD
This is the decision of the Final Adjudication Branch concerning your claim for compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq. (EEOICPA or the Act). For the reasons stated below, your claim for benefits is denied.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On June 10, 2002, you filed a Claim for Survivor Benefits under the EEOICPA, form EE-2, with the Denver district office, as the spouse of the employee, for multiple myeloma. You indicated on the EE-3 form that your husband was employed by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey at various locations, including the Nevada Test Site, from early 1951 to December 1953.
You also submitted marriage certificate and death certificates establishing that you were married to the employee from March 7, 1953 until his death on November 5, 1999, tax forms confirming his employment with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1951 and 1952 and a document from the Nevada Field Office of the Department of Energy (DOE) indicating that they had records of your husband having been exposed to radiation in 1951 and 1952. Additionally, you submitted a document stating that your claim under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act had been approved in the amount of $75,000; you stated that you had declined to accept the award and that was confirmed by a representative of the Department of Justice on August 12, 2002.
On July 1, 2002, you were informed of the medical evidence needed to support that your husband had cancer. You submitted records of medical treatment, including a pathology report of April 19, 1993, confirming that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
On July 22, 2002, a DOE official stated that, to her knowledge, your husband’s employers were not Department of Energy contractors or subcontractors. On July 29, 2002, you were advised of the type of evidence you could submit to support that your husband had employment which would give rise to coverage under the Act, and given 30 days to submit such evidence. You submitted statements from co-workers confirming that he did work at the Nevada Test Site for a period from October to December 1951 and again for a few weeks in the spring of 1952.
On August 29, 2002, the district office issued a recommended decision that concluded that you were not entitled to compensation benefits because the evidence did not establish that your husband was a covered employee.
By letter dated September 20, 2002, your representative objected to the recommended decision, stating that your husband was a covered employee in that he worked at the Test Site while employed by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which was a contractor of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), a predecessor agency of the DOE. The representative also submitted documents which indicated that the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey performed work, including offering technical advice and conducting surveys, for other government agencies, including the AEC and the military, and that it was covered by a cooperative agreement between the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Army. On April 1, 2003, the case was remanded to the district office for the purpose of determining whether your husband’s work at the Nevada Test Site was performed under a “contract” between the DOE and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
The documents submitted by your representative were forwarded to the DOE, which responded on May 28, 2003 that dosimetry records existed for your husband “showing that he was with the USC&GS but after further research it was established that the USC&GS was in fact not a contractor or subcontractor of the AEC during those years.” The documents were also reviewed by the Branch of Policy, Regulations and Procedures in our National Office. On November 7, 2003, the district office issued a recommended decision to deny your claim. The decision stated that the evidence submitted did not support that the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey was a contractor of the DOE at the Nevada Test Site, and, concluded that you were not entitled to benefits under § 7384s of the EEOICPA as your husband was not a covered employee under § 7384l. 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384l and 7384s.
In a letter dated January 7, 2004, your representative objected to the recommended decision. He did not submit additional evidence but did explain why he believes the evidence already submitted was sufficient to support that your husband was a covered employee under the Act. Specifically, he stated that the evidence supported that your husband worked at the Nevada Test Site in 1951 and 1952 in the course of his employment with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, an agency which was performing a survey at the request of the AEC, and that the latter agency issued him a badge which established that he was exposed to radiation while working there. He argued that one must reasonably conclude from these facts that his work at the Nevada Test Site did constitute covered employment under the EEOICPA.
FINDINGS OF FACT
You filed a claim for survivor benefits under the EEOICPA on June 10, 2002.
You were married to the employee from March 7, 1953 until his death on November 5, 1999.
Medical records, including a pathology report, confirmed he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in April 1993.
In the course of his employment by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, your husband worked, and was exposed to radiation, at the Nevada Test Site, a DOE facility.
The evidence does not support, and the Department of Energy has denied, that the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey was a contractor of the DOE at the time your husband worked at the Nevada Test Site.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
A claimant who receives a recommended denial from the district office is entitled to file objections to the decision, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 30.310. The same section of the regulations provides that in filing objections, the claimant must identify his objections as specifically as possible. In reviewing any objections submitted, under 20 C.F.R. § 30.313, the Final Adjudication Branch will review the written record, any additional evidence or argument submitted by the claimant, and conduct any additional investigation determined to be warranted in the case. I have reviewed the record in this case and your representative’s letter of January 2, 2004 and must conclude that no further investigation is warranted.
The purpose of the EEOICPA, as stated in its § 7384d(b), is to provide for “compensation of covered employees and, where applicable, survivors of such employees, suffering from illnesses incurred by such employees in the performance of duty for the Department of Energy and certain of its contractors and subcontractors.” 42 U.S.C. § 7384d(b).
A “covered employee with cancer” includes, pursuant to § 7384l(9)(B) of the Act, an individual who is a “Department of Energy contractor employee who contracted…cancer after beginning employment at a Department of Energy facility.” Under § 7384l(11), a “Department of Energy contractor employee” may be an individual who “was employed at a Department of energy facility by…an entity that contracted with the Department of Energy to provide management and operating, management and integration, or environmental remediation at the facility; or…a contractor or subcontractor that provided services, including construction and maintenance, at the facility.” 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(9)(B),(11).
EEOICPA Bulletin NO. 03-26 states that “a civilian employee of a state or federal government agency can be considered a ‘DOE contractor employee’ if the government agency employing that individual is (1) found to have entered into a contract with DOE for the accomplishment of…services it was not statutorily obligated to perform, and (2) DOE compensated the agency for that activity.” The same Bulletin goes on to define a “contract” as “an agreement that something specific is to be done in return for some payment or consideration.”
Section 30.111(a) states that “Except where otherwise provided in the Act and these regulations, the claimant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of each and every criterion necessary to establish eligibility under any compensable claim category set forth in § 30.110.” 20 C.F.R. § 30.111(a).
As noted above, the evidence supports that your husband was exposed to radiation while working for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey at the Nevada Test Site in late 1951 and early 1952, that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in April 1993, and that you were married to him from March 7, 1953 until his death on November 5, 1999.
It does not reasonably follow from the evidence in the file that his work at the Nevada Test Site must have been performed under a “contract” between the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and the AEC. Government agencies are not private companies and often cooperate with and provide services for other agencies without reimbursement. The DOE issued radiation badges to military personnel, civilian employees of other government agencies, and visitors, who were authorized to be on a site but were not DOE employees or DOE contractor employees. No evidence has been submitted that your husband’s work at the Nevada Test Site was pursuant to a “contract” between the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and the AEC and the DOE has specifically denied that his employing agency was a contractor or subcontractor at that time. Therefore, there is no basis under the Act to pay compensation benefits for his cancer.
For the foregoing reasons, the undersigned must find that you have not established your claim for compensation under the EEOICPA and hereby denies that claim.