|U.S. Department of Labor||Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
Division of Energy Employees Occupational
Washington, DC 20210
EEOICPA CIRCULAR NO. 17-02 DATE: February 3, 2017
SUBJECT: Pantex Plant Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Class from January 1, 1951 through December 31, 1957.
The purpose of this Circular is to notify all Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) staff of the SEC class designation for the Pantex Plant located in Amarillo, Texas.
Pursuant to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) and 42 C.F.R. Part 83, a petition was filed on behalf of workers at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas to be added to the SEC.
The decision to initiate this petition occurred after the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined that it could not reconstruct a dose under 42 C.F.R. § 83.13. NIOSH submitted its findings to the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health (“the Board”) on July 17, 2013. On August 28, 2013, the Board submitted recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). After considering the deliberations, findings, and recommendations of the Board, Director of NIOSH, and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Secretary of HHS (the Secretary) determined that the following employees do not meet the statutory criteria of addition to the SEC, as authorized under the EEOICPA, 42 U.S.C. §7384q.
All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, during the period from January 1, 1951 through December 31, 1957.
Subsequently, the petitioner requested an administrative review of the Secretary’s final decision pursuant to 42 C.F.R. § 83.18. A panel of three HHS personnel (the Panel), independent of NIOSH, was appointed by the Secretary to conduct an administrative review and provide recommendations concerning the merits of the challenge and the resolution of issues contested by the petitioner in the challenge. Based on its evaluation, the Panel recommended a revision of the final decision not to add a class of workers from the Pantex Plant, and NIOSH agreed to provide a new designation comporting with the Panel’s recommendations. Consequently, on January 4, 2017, the Secretary designated the following class for addition to the SEC in a report to Congress:
All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas during the period from January 1, 1951 through December 31, 1957, for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring either solely under this employment or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees in the Special Exposure Cohort.
A copy of the Secretary’s letter to Congress recommending the designation is included as Attachment 1. Although Congress had the authority to reject the recommendation within the 30-day time frame, Congress took no action. Therefore, the SEC designation for this class became effective as of February 3, 2017, which was 30 days after the Secretary of HHS designated the class for addition to the SEC in the report to Congress.
This is the third SEC class for workers at the Pantex Plant. The first class was the subject of EEOICPA Circular No. 12-06. The second class was the subject of EEOICPA Circular No. 14-03. To qualify under this SEC class, the employee must be an employee of the Department of Energy (DOE), an employee of one of its predecessor agencies, or an employee of a DOE contractor or subcontractor who has worked at least 250 workdays at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas from January 1, 1951 through December 31, 1957.
If the employee does not have 250 workdays at the Pantex Plant during the period of the class, the case file must be reviewed to determine if additional days in the SEC can be found by combining days from employment meeting the criteria for other SEC classes and aggregating them together to meet the 250-workday requirement.
While a new SEC class has been added for employees at the Pantex Plant, NIOSH intends to use any internal and external monitoring data that may become available for an individual claim (and that can be interpreted using existing NIOSH dose reconstruction processes and procedures). Additionally, NIOSH can reconstruct internal and external dose for uranium and thorium extraction operations based upon source term information. This means that for claims that do not satisfy the SEC membership criteria, a partial dose reconstruction is to be performed by NIOSH.
A copy of the NIOSH letter to affected employees at the facility is included as Attachment 2.
This Circular should be used in conjunction with EEOICPA Bulletin No. 11-07, Special Exposure Cohort Claim Processing. A screening worksheet is included as Attachment 3.
As outlined in the EEOICPA Bulletin No. 11-07, the district offices and Final Adjudication Branch (FAB) offices are to use the comprehensive list provided as the basis for an initial screening of cases associated with all SEC classes. All cases on the comprehensive list, that are located at a district office or FAB office, must be reviewed for possible inclusion in the SEC class. The jurisdictional office listed on the comprehensive report as the location of where the case resides is responsible for ensuring that screening occurs for that case. For screening only, the results reflected on the initial screening worksheet must be recorded in ECS using the Screening (SEC/PER/Other) Navigation Panel. From the Screening (SEC/PER/Other) Navigation Panel on the case, select the ‘Create’ button. Based on the result of the review and in accordance with the ‘SEC Class Screening Worksheet’, select the appropriate result of “Likely” if the case is likely an SEC, “Unlikely” if it is unlikely that the case will be an SEC, or “Development Needed” if development is needed. The date of the signed worksheet is recorded in the “Date” field. The reason associated with the SEC is selected in the “Reason” field. For this SEC, the reason is “Rvwd per Circular 17-02, Pantex Plant (1/1/51 – 12/31/57).” If the CE determines that the case is going to be awarded based on a SEC, a positive SEC causation path must be entered into ECS. This process is the equivalent of the SER/SEF codes discussed in Bulletin No. 11-07.
RACHEL P. LEITON
Director, Division of Energy Employees
Occupational Illness Compensation
Distribution List No. 1: Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Section