|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR||EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ADMINISTRATION |
OFFICE OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION PROGRAMS
DIVISION OF ENERGY EMPLOYEES OCCUPATIONAL
FINAL ADJUDICATION BRANCH
June 3, 2003
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 (EEOICPA or the Act). See 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq. The recommended decision was to deny your claim. You submitted objections to that recommended decision. The Final Adjudication Branch carefully considered the objections and completed a review of the written record. See 20 C.F.R. § 30.312. The Final Adjudication Branch concludes that the evidence is insufficient to allow compensation under the Act. Accordingly, your claim for benefits is denied.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On July 31, 2001, you filed a Form EE-2 (Claim for Survivor Benefits under the EEOICPA), stating that you were the daughter of [Employee], who was diagnosed with cancer, chronic silicosis, and emphysema. You completed a Form EE-3, Employment History for Claim under the EEOICPA, indicating that from December 2, 1944 to May 30, 1975, [Employee] was employed as a heavy mobile and equipment mechanic, for Alaska District, Corps of Engineers, Anchorage, Alaska.
On August 20, 2001, a representative of the Department of Energy (or DOE) indicated that “none of the employment history listed on the EE-3 form was for an employer/facility which appears on the Department of Energy Covered Facilities List.” Also, on August 29, 2001, a representative of the DOE stated in Form EE-5 that the employment history contains information that is not accurate. The information from the DOE lacked indication of covered employment under the EEOICPA.
The record in this case contains other employment evidence for [Employee]. With the claim for benefits, you submitted a “Request and Authorization for TDY Travel of DOD Personnel” Form DD-1610, initiated on November 10, 1971 and approved on November 11, 1971. [Employee] was approved for TDY travel for three days to perform work on Amchitka Island, Alaska, for the Department of Defense, Alaska District Corps of Engineers beginning on November 15, 1971. He was employed as a Mobile Equipment Mechanic WG-12, and the purpose of the TDY was noted “to examine equipment for potential use on Blair Lake Project.” The security clearance was noted as “Secret.” You also submitted numerous personnel documents from [Employee]’s employment with the Alaska District Corp of Engineers. Those documents include a “Notification of Personnel Action” Form SF-50 stating that [Employee]’s service compensation date was December 2, 1944, for his work as a Heavy Mobile Equipment Mechanic; and at a WG-12, Step 5, and that he voluntarily retired on May 30, 1975.
The medical documentation of record shows that [Employee] was diagnosed with emphysema, small cell carcinoma of the lung, and chronic silicosis. A copy of [Employee]’s Death Certificate shows that he died on October 9, 1990, and the cause of death was due to or as a consequence of bronchogenic cancer of the lung, small cell type.
On September 6 and November 5, 2001, the district office wrote to you stating that additional evidence was needed to show that [Employee] engaged in covered employment. You were requested to submit a Form EE-4, Employment History Affidavit, or other contemporaneous records to show proof of [Employee]’s employment at the Amchitka Island, Alaska site covered under the EEOICPA. You did not submit any additional evidence and by recommended decision dated December 12, 2001, the Seattle district office recommended denial of your claim. The district office concluded that you did not submit employment evidence as proof that [Employee] worked during a period of covered employment as required by § 30.110 of the EEOICPA regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 30.110.
On January 15 and February 6, 2002, you submitted written objections to the recommended denial decision. The DOE also forwarded additional employment information. On March 20, 2002, a representative of the DOE provided a Form EE-5 stating that the employment history is accurate and complete. However, on March 25, 2002, a representative of the DOE submitted a “corrected copy” Form EE-5 that indicated that the employment history provided in support of the claim for benefits “contains information that is not accurate.” An attachment to Form EE-5 indicated that [Employee] was employed by the Army Corps of Engineers for the period July 25, 1944 to August 11, 1952, at Fort Richardson, Alaska; and from August 11, 1952 to May 30, 1975 at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Further, the attachment included clarifying information:
Our records show that the Corps of Engineers’ was a prime AEC contractor at Amchitka. [Employee]’s Official Personnel Folder (OPF) indicates that he was at Forth Richardson and Elmendorf AFB, both in Alaska. The OPF provided no indication that [Employee] worked at Amchitka, Alaska. To the best of our knowledge, Blair Lake Project was not a DOE project.
Also, on April 3, 2002, a representative of the DOE submitted a Form EE-5 indicating that Bechtel Nevada had no information regarding [Employee], but he had a film badge issued at the Amchitka Test Site, on November 15, 1971. The record includes a copy of Appendix A-7 of a “Manager’s Completion Report” which indicates that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers was a prime AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) Construction, Operations and Support Contractor, on Amchitka Island, Alaska.
On December 10, 2002, a hearing representative of the Final Adjudication Branch issued a Remand Order. Noting the above evidence, the hearing representative determined that the “only evidence in the record with regard to the Army Corps of Engineers status as a contractor on Amchitka Island is the DOE verification of its listing as a prime AEC contractor . . . and DOE’s unexplained and unsupported verification [of [Employee]’s employment, which] are not sufficient to establish that a contractual relationship existed between the AEC, as predecessor to the DOE, and the Army Corps of Engineers.” The Remand Order requested the district office to further develop the record to determine whether the Army Corps of Engineers had a contract with the Department of Energy for work on Amchitka Island, Alaska, and if the work [Employee] performed was in conjunction with that contract. Further the Remand Order directed the district office to obtain additional evidence to determine if [Employee] was survived by a spouse, and since it did not appear that you were a natural child of [Employee], if you could establish that you were a stepchild who lived with [Employee] in a regular parent-child relationship. Thus, the Remand Order requested additional employment evidence and proof of eligibility under the Act.
On January 9, 2003, the district office wrote to you requesting that you provide proof that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had a contract with the AEC for work [Employee] performed on his TDY assignment to Amchitka Island, Alaska for the three days in November 1971. Further, the district office requested that you provide proof of your mother’s death, as well as evidence to establish your relationship to [Employee] as a survivor.
You submitted a copy of your birth certificate that indicated that you were born [Name of Claimant at Birth] on October 4, 1929, to your natural mother and natural father [Natural Mother] and [Natural Father]. You also submitted a Divorce Decree filed in Boulder County Court, Colorado, Docket No. 10948, which showed that your biological parents were divorced on October 10, 1931, and your mother, [Natural Mother] was awarded sole custody of the minor child, [Name of Claimant at Birth]. In addition, you submitted a marriage certificate that indicated that [Natural Mother] married [Employee] in the State of Colorado on November 10, 1934. Further, you took the name [Name of Claimant Assuming Employee’s Last Name] at the time of your mother’s marriage in 1934, as indicated by the sworn statement of your mother on March 15, 1943. You provided a copy of a Marriage Certificate to show that on August 19, 1949, you married [Husband]. In addition, you submitted a copy of the Death Certificate for [Name of Natural Mother Assuming Employee’s Last Name] stating that she died on May 2, 1990. The record includes a copy of [Employee]’s Death Certificate showing he died on October 9, 1990.
You also submitted the following additional documentation on January 20, 2003: (1) A copy of [Employee’s] Last Will and Testament indicated that you, [Claimant], were the adult daughter and named her as Personal Representative of the Estate; (2) Statements by Jeanne Findler McKinney and Jean M. Peterson acknowledged on January 17, 2003, indicated that you lived in a parent-child relationship with [Employee] since 1945; (3) A copy of an affidavit signed by [Name of Natural Mother Assuming Employee’s Last Name] (duplicate) indicated that at the time of your mother’s marriage to [Employee], you took the name [Name of Claimant Assuming Employee’s Last Name].
You submitted additional employment documentation on January 27, 2003: (1) A copy of [Employee]’s TDY travel orders (duplicate); (2) A Memorandum of Appreciation dated February 11, 1972 from the Department of the Air Force commending [Employee] and other employees, for their support of the Blair Lake Project; (3) A letter of appreciation dated February 18, 1972 from the Department of the Army for [Employee]’s contribution to the Blair Lake Project; and (4) Magazine and newspaper articles containing photographs of [Employee], which mention the work performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Anchorage, Alaska.
The record also includes correspondence, dated March 27, 2003, from a DOE representative. Based on a review of the documents you provided purporting that [Employee] was a Department of Energy contractor employee working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on TDY in November, 1971, the DOE stated that the Blair Lake Project was not a DOE venture, observing that “[i]f Blair Lake Project had been our work, we would have found some reference to it.”
On April 4, 2003, the Seattle district office recommended denial of your claim for benefits. The district office concluded that the evidence of record was insufficient to establish that [Employee] was a covered employee as defined under § 7384l(9)(A). See 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(9)(A). Further, [Employee] was not a member of the Special Exposure Cohort, as defined by § 7384l(14)(B). See 42 U.S. C. § 7384l(14)(B). Also, [Employee] was not a “covered employee with silicosis” as defined under §§ 7384r(b) and 7384r(c). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384r(b) and (c). Lastly, the recommended decision found that you are not entitled to compensation under § 7384s. See 42 U.S.C. § 7384s.
On April 21, 2003, the Final Adjudication Branch received your letter of objection to the recommended decision and attachments. First, you contended that the elements of the December 10, 2002 Remand Order were fulfilled because you submitted a copy of your mother’s death certificate and further proof that [Employee] was your stepfather; and that the letter from the district office on April 4, 2003 “cleared that question on page three – quote ‘Our records show that the Corps of Engineers was a prime AEC contractor at Amchitka.’”
Second, you stated that further clarification was needed as to the condition you were claiming. You submitted a death certificate for [Employee] showing that he died due to bronchogenic cancer of the lung, small cell type, and noted that that was the condition you alleged as the basis of your claim on your first Form, associated with your claim under the EEOICPA.
Third, you alleged that, in [Employee]’s capacity as a “Mobile Industrial Equipment Mechanic” for the Army Corps of Engineers, “he was required to work not only for the DOD (Blair Lake project) but also for DOE on the Amchitka program. For example: on March 5, 1968 he was sent to Seward, Alaska to ‘Inspect equipment going to Amchitka.’ He was sent from the Blair Lake project (DOD) to Seward for the specified purpose of inspecting equipment bound for Amchitka (DOE). Thus, the DOE benefited from my father’s [Corp of Engineers] expertise/service while on ‘loan’ from the DOD. Since the closure of the Amchitka project (DOE), the island has been restored to its original condition. . . . Therefore, my dad’s trip to Amchitka to inspect equipment which might have been used at the Blair Lake project benefited not only DOD but also DOE. In the common law, this is known as the ‘shared Employee’ doctrine, and it subjects both employers to liability for various employment related issues.”
On May 21, 2003, the Final Adjudication Branch received your letter dated May 21, 2003, along with various attachments. You indicated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was a contractor to the DOE for the Amchitka Project, based upon page 319 of an unclassified document you had previously submitted in March 2002. Further, you indicated that [Employee] had traveled to Seward, Alaska to inspect equipment used at on-site operations for use on Amchitka Island by the Corps of Engineers for the DOE project, and referred to the copy of the Corps of Engineers TDY for Seward travel you submitted to the Final Adjudication Branch with your letter of April 18, 2003. Also, you indicated that [Employee] traveled to Amchitka, Island in November 1972 to inspect the equipment referenced above, which had been shipped from Seward, Alaska. You indicated that [Employee] was a mobile industrial equipment mechanic, and that his job required him to travel. You attached the following documents in support of your contention that the equipment [Employee] inspected could have included equipment belonging to the Corps of Engineers: Job Description, Alaska District, Corps of Engineers (previously submitted), and an Employee Performance Appraisal.
In addition, you indicated [Employee] was required to travel to remote sites throughout Alaska in order to perform his job with the Corps of Engineers, and in support of this you referred to your electronic mail sent to the Seattle District Office on January 7, 2003. You indicated that, since [Employee] was required to travel to Amchitka as a part of his regular duties as a mobile industrial equipment mechanic, it was possible that the equipment he inspected on the November 15, 1971 trip to Amchitka included equipment owned by the Corps as well as inspection of equipment owned by private contractors. You attached a copy of a document entitled, “Affidavit,” dated May 21, 2003, signed by Erwin L. Long. Mr. Long stated that he was head of the Foundations Material Branch for the Corps of Engineers at the time of his retirement, and that in 1971 he had been Head of the Rock Design Section. Mr. Long indicated that he did not spend any time on Amchitka Island, that he had known [Employee] since 1948, and that he “believe[d]” [Employee]’s travel to Amchitka for his job would have required him to track equipment belonging to the Corps of Engineers, and that [Employee] would also have “performed required maintenance on the equipment before preparing [it] for shipping off Amchitka Island.” Mr. Long also stated that [Employee] would not talk about his work on Amchitka since it was classified. Finally, you attached a TDY dated March 4, 1968, as well as a travel voucher/subvoucher dated March 15, 1968, to support that [Employee]’s mission to Amchitka had been completed.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On July 31, 2001, [Claimant] filed a claim for survivor benefits under the EEOICPA as the daughter of [Employee].
2. [Employee] was diagnosed with small cell bronchogenic carcinoma of the lung and chronic silicosis.
3. [Employee] was employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the period from July 25, 1944 to August 11, 1952, at Fort Richardson, Alaska; and from August 11, 1952 to May 30, 1975 at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
4. [Employee]’s employment for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on TDY assignment at the Amchitka Island, Alaska site in November 1971 was in conjunction with a Department of Defense venture, the Blair Lakes Project.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The EEOCIPA implementing regulations provide that a claimant may object to any or all of the findings of fact or conclusions of law, in the recommended decision. 20 C.F.R. § 30.310. Further, the regulations provide that the Final Adjudication Branch will consider objections by means of a review of the written record. 20 C.F.R. § 30.312. The Final Adjudication Branch reviewer will review the record forwarded by the district office and any additional evidence and/or argument submitted by the claimant. 20 C.F.R. § 30.313. Consequently, the Final Adjudication Branch will consider the overall evidence of record in reviewing the written record.
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 with cancer (bronchogenic cancer of the lung, small cell type) and chronic silicosis. Consequently, [Employee] was diagnosed with two illnesses potentially 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 have been 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 section 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 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 Army Corps of Engineers.
The undersigned notes that the Atomic Energy Commission’s Managers Completion Report refers to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, as a prime contractor for work on Milrow and Cannikin. The work to be performed under that contract consisted of “engineering, procurement, construction administration and inspection.”
[Employee]’s “Request and Authorization for TDY Travel of DOD Personnel,” initiated on November 10 and approved on November 11, 1971, was for the purpose of three days work on Amchitka Island, Alaska, for the Department of Defense, Alaska District Corps of Engineers. The purpose of the TDY was to “examine equipment for potential use on Blair Lake Project.”
You submitted the following new documents along with your letter to the Final Adjudication Branch dated May 21, 2003: Employee Performance Appraisal for the period February 1, 1966 to January 31, 1967; Affidavit of Erwin L. Long dated May 21, 2003; Request and Authorization for Military Personnel TDY Travel and Civilian Personnel TDY and PCS Travel, dated March 4, 1968; and Travel Voucher or Subvoucher, dated March 15, 1968. None of the documents submitted establish that [Employee] was on Amchitka Island providing services pursuant to a contract with the DOE.
The preponderance of the evidence in this case supports the conclusion that [Employee] was on Amchitka Island in November 1971 for the sole purpose of inspecting equipment to be used by the Department of Defense on its Blair Lake Project. The documentation of record refers to the Blair Lake Project as a Department of Defense project, and the DOE noted in correspondence dated March 27, 2003, that research was not able to verify that Blair Lake was a DOE project.
While the DOE indicated that [Employee] was issued a dosimetry badge, 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 Department of Defense, and not pursuant to a contract between the DOE and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The evidence is also insufficient to show covered employment under § 7384r(c) and (d) of the EEOICPA for chronic silicosis. To be a “covered employee with chronic silicosis” it must be established that the employee was:
A DOE employee or a DOE contractor employee, who was present for a number of workdays aggregating at least 250 work days during the mining of tunnels at a DOE facility located in Nevada or Alaska for test or experiments related to an atomic weapon.
See 42 U.S.C. § 7384r(c) and (d); 20 C.F.R. § 30.220(a). Consequently, even if the evidence showed DOE employment (which it does not since [Employee] worked for the DOD), he was present only three days on Amchitka, which is not sufficient for the 250 days required under the Act as a covered employee with silicosis.
The undersigned notes that in your objection to the recommended decision, you referred to a “shared employee” doctrine which you believe should be applied to this claim. You contend that on March 5, 1968, [Employee] was sent to Seward, Alaska to “Inspect equipment going to Amchitka, which might have been used at the Blair Lake project [to benefit] not only DOD but also DOE.” No provision in the Act refers to a “shared employee” doctrine. Given the facts of this case, coverage could only be established if [Employee] was on Amchitka Island providing services pursuant to a contract with the DOE, evidence of which is lacking in this case.
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 section 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 covered illnesses due to cancer and chronic silicosis, the evidence of record is insufficient to establish that [Employee] engaged in covered employment. Therefore, your claim must be denied for lack of proof of covered employment under the EEOICPA.
Rosanne M. Dummer
Seattle District Manager, Final Adjudication Branch