OWCP News Release: [11/10/2011]
Contact Name: Jesse Lawder
Phone Number: (202) 693-4659
Release Number: 11-1626-NAT
US Department of Labor partners with National Academy of Sciences to enhance website used to assist nuclear weapons workers
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs today announced a partnership with the National Academy of Sciences to further enhance the Site Exposure Matrices website, a tool that aids the adjudication of claims under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
The SEM website contains pertinent toxic substance information and scientifically established links between toxic substances and covered illnesses, derived from research recognized by medical authorities and maintained by the National Library of Medicine. Under the partnership, the NAS will convene a panel of experts to review the scientific accuracy of occupational disease links to toxic substances present at various locations within EEOICPA-covered facilities. The experts will evaluate other exposure databases to identify ways to augment disease associations. They also will evaluate the National Institutes of Health's Haz-Map database, which is an occupational toxicology information system that links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms, and provides information for the SEM website.
The NAS will report findings and recommendations within 18 months to the Labor Department's Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation, which administers the EEOICPA. Ultimately, the review will enhance the scientific foundation of the SEM website, allowing the department to better serve EEOICPA claimants.
"The partnership between the department and the NAS will make the SEM website a more effective tool in determining a link between exposure to a toxic substance and resulting illnesses," said DEEOIC Director Rachel Leiton. "I am eager to see the results of the NAS review and use the information gathered to better assist the former nuclear weapons workers and families who are entitled to benefits under the EEOICPA."
The NAS was created in 1863 to address the government's urgent need for independent advice on scientific matters, and its scope was later expanded to include medicine and technology. NAS is a private, nonprofit society of elected scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the advancement of science and technology for the public good.
On July 31, 2001, the Labor Department began administering Part B of the EEOICPA. Part B covers current and former workers who have been diagnosed with cancer, beryllium disease or silicosis, and whose illness was caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while working directly for the U.S. Department of Energy, that department's contractors or subcontractors, a designated Atomic Weapons Employer or a beryllium vendor. 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 conditions. Part E, created by an amendment to the EEOICPA on Oct. 28, 2004, and also administered by the Labor Department, provides federal compensation and medical benefits to DOE contractors and subcontractors who worked at covered facilities during a covered time period and sustained an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances.
The SEM website can be found at http://www.sem.dol.gov, and includes a user's guide on navigating the site for information. The Labor Department continually seeks new information to supplement and enhance the SEM website. Individuals can send information or comments by completing the form provided on the site, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or writing by regular mail to the Site Exposure Matrices Administrator, P.O. Box 1375, Hilliard, Ohio 43026-1375.