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ESA News Release: [01/10/2005]
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Contact Name: Dolline Hatchett
Phone Number: (202) 693-4651
Release Number: 05-38-ATL

Labor Department Expedites Workers Comp Claim for Knoxville Widow

Senator Lamar Alexander and Labor Department Official Deliver Check

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards Victoria A. Lipnic joined Senator Lamar Alexander in Knoxville today to make one of the first payments under the new Part E Program of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). The check for $125,000 was presented to Christine Case, surviving widow of Wayne Wallace Jr., who worked as an electrician at the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., from 1953 to 1971.

"Thousands of workers like Mr. Wallace sacrificed to keep our country safe," said Lipnic, "It is our responsibility to ensure these workers and their families are well served by the new energy workers compensation program."

Part E, administered by the Labor Department, replaces the Part D program formerly run by the Department of Energy (DOE). In October of 2004, the President signed into law an amendment to the EEOICPA that created Part E to provide federal compensation and medical benefits to contractors and subcontractors, or their survivors, who worked at certain DOE facilities and sustained an occupational injury as a result of exposure to toxic substances.

"Compensation for Christine Case and other Cold War veterans families is long overdue," said Alexander at the check presentation. "The DOL currently runs several similar programs and is well-equipped to handle these claims. I am glad to see that the legislation I co-sponsored in the Senate has made it possible for 4,800 families in Tennessee to receive payment and medical benefits much sooner."

While many Part E entitlement provisions are not yet set forth in final regulations, the published preliminary procedures allow the Labor Department to process the most straightforward claims and issue payments. In addition to Mrs. Cases claim, there are nearly 100 more claims that have been approved for payment. Checks for those claimants will be distributed within the next month. The department is expected to publish final regulations on Part E in late spring.

Over the past four years, the department has successfully administered the Part B program of the EEOICPA and has issued more than $1 billion in compensation and medical payments to approximately 12,800 claimants. Part B provides a lump sum payment of $150,000 in addition to medical expenses for current and former DOE employees who became ill as a result of their exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica. DOE contractor employees, and certain survivors, are also potentially eligible. Covered conditions include radiogenic cancers, beryllium diseases and chronic silicosis. Qualified survivors of deceased covered employees may also be eligible for the lump sum compensation of $150,000.