OWCP News Release: [05/10/2010]
Contact Name: Jesse Lawder Michael Volpe

Phone Number: (202) 693-4659 (202) 693-3984
Email Address: lawder.jesse@dol.gov volpe.michael@dol.gov
Release Number: 10-0665-NAT

US Department of Labor improves and expands Site Exposure Matrices website by adding new information about toxic substances at nuclear weapons facilities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it soon will release to the public a large portion of a greatly enhanced version of its Site Exposure Matrices website. The new version will contain more data and provide additional ways to look for information regarding toxic substances at U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons facilities covered under Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. This more robust version of the SEM can be made public as a result of an Energy Department decision to release the more detailed information on 48 of the 116 Energy Department weapons facilities, as well as for all uranium mines, mills and ore buying stations. The enhanced system is expected to be available online at http://www.sem.dol.gov within the next month. The Departments of Labor and Energy are working together to release the remaining 68 Part E sites within the coming year.

“I am proud to announce the new and expanded version of the SEM website,” said Shelby Hallmark, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. “We have been working with the Department of Energy to make as much of it available to the public as that department felt could be done without risking national security. For this first group of sites, the public now will be able to access online the same type of data our claims examiners use to evaluate possible exposures and causal links to specific illnesses.”

Following the enactment of Part E in 2004, the Labor Department launched an effort to create the SEM database to assist claimants in substantiating their Part E claims. Part E of EEOICPA covers all occupational illnesses caused by any of the tens of thousands of toxic substances that have been present in the weapons complex. In addition to exposure data, the SEM contains information documenting confirmed causal relationships between certain toxic substances and diagnosed medical conditions. The SEM was created using information from the Department of Energy and records of research from recognized medical authorities maintained by the National Library of Medicine. The Labor Department has supplemented the Energy Department exposure data by conducting an extensive series of roundtable meetings with former workers across the country to identify materials they worked with, and using other information supplied by claimants and members of the public. The Labor Department continues to expand the database as new information is received. The resulting database has been an invaluable tool for many claimants who had no means of proving, or even knowing, what toxic substances their family member was exposed to.

Initially, the full SEM database was only available internally within the Department of Labor. Following extensive discussions and collaboration between the two departments, the public soon will gain access to a granular level SEM database. The enhanced public version of the SEM website will allow users to more easily identify interrelationships among Department of Energy buildings, work processes, labor categories and exposure to toxic substances.

The Labor Department is always interested in obtaining new information to supplement and enhance the SEM database. Individuals can send information or comments regarding the SEM by completing a form provided on the website, sending an e-mail to info@dol-sem-public.com or writing by regular mail to the Site Exposure Matrices Administrator, P.O. Box 1375, Hilliard, OH 43026-1375.