U.S. Department of Labor Statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapons Program Workers
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs Director Julia Hearthway issued the following statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapons Program Workers:
"Seventy-seven years ago, the United States launched the Manhattan Project to harness the power of the atom and create the first atomic bomb.
"In the years since, workers in 380 facilities around the country have participated in the research, development, manufacturing and storage of America's nuclear arsenal. During a time of international uncertainty, these workers risked many hazards to support our nation and ensure our common defense.
"When workers who helped build and safeguard our country's most dangerous weapons became ill because of their work, they had nowhere to turn. Congress passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act on October 30, 2000, a date now honored as a day of remembrance for nuclear weapons program workers, including uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters.
"Within the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) has the primary responsibility for administering the act, including the adjudication of claims and the payment of benefits. To date, almost $17 billion in compensation and medical bill payments have been remitted to those workers and their families.
"While our country can never show our full appreciation to those workers who became ill protecting our country and their families, the resource center and claims staff at Department of Labor work hard every day to ensure that we provide as much assistance as possible to those in need. These injured workers, who worked so hard for all of us, deserve it."
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act provides lump-sum compensation and medical benefits to current and former nuclear weapons workers whose illness is the result of working in the nuclear weapons industry. The program has paid more than $378 million in compensation and medical benefits to claimants living in Texas, and more than $16.9 billion nationwide.
Current and former nuclear weapons program workers and their families who wish to file a claim for benefits, should call 1-866-692-7487.
The mission of OWCP is to protect the interests of workers who are injured or become ill on the job, their families and their employers by making timely, appropriate, and accurate decisions on claims, providing prompt payment of benefits and helping injured workers return to gainful work as early as is feasible.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.