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U.S. Labor Department pays $500 million to Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant workers under Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it has paid more than $500 million in compensation and medical benefits to 4,798 current and former employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and their survivors under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). The EEOICPA was created to assist individuals who became ill as a result of working in the atomic weapons industry. Survivors of such individuals may also be eligible for benefits.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, located in Paducah, Ky., produced more than one million tons of uranium during the plant's Cold War history.
"Employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant sacrificed their health to help the nation build its nuclear defense program. Therefore, I am proud to announce that the Labor Department has paid these deserving individuals more than $500 million in compensation and medical benefits," said Rachel P. Leiton, director of the department's Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation, which administers the EEOICPA. "We hope that this aid has assisted in easing the hardships experienced by this community."
Individuals who were employed at the Paducah Gaseous plant may be eligible for benefits under both Parts B and E of the EEOICPA. Part B was implemented in July 2001, and covers current and former workers who have been diagnosed with cancers, beryllium disease or silicosis, and whose illness was caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while working directly for the Department of Energy, that department's contractors or subcontractors, a designated Atomic Weapons Employer or a beryllium vendor. Under Part B, silicosis is only covered for employees who worked during the mining of atomic weapons test tunnels in Nevada or Alaska. Individuals or their survivors found eligible under Part B may receive a lump sum compensation payment of $150,000 and medical expenses for their covered condition.
Part E of the act was created as an amendment to the EEOICPA in October 2004, transferring the old Part D from the Department of Energy to the Department of Labor. Part E provides coverage to Department of Energy contractor or subcontractor employees who developed any illness, including cancer, beryllium disease and silicosis, as a result of occupational exposure to a toxic substance at a covered Department of Energy facility. Workers found eligible under Part E of the EEOICPA receive payment of their medical expenses for their covered illness and may also be eligible for impairment and/or wage loss compensation. Survivors found eligible under Part E receive a lump sum compensation payment of $125,000 and may also be eligible to receive additional compensation if the worker experienced wage loss due to the accepted condition.
Since the implementation of the EEOICPA, the Department of Labor has paid 51,331 claimants more than $4.8 billion in compensation and medical benefits nationwide. The Labor Department maintains 11 resource centers nationwide that provide in-person and telephone-based assistance to service individuals regardless of where they live. Employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant needing additional information or who want to file a claim under the EEOICPA may call the Paducah Resource Center toll-free at 866-534-0599.