May 7, 2007

Cold War-era Los Alamos Lab employees might get cancer compensation

Associated Press
Monday, May 7, 2007

— Hundreds of Cold War-era workers from Los Alamos National Laboratory soon might be eligible for compensation for cancers they developed after being exposed to radioactive materials.

A federal advisory board on Thursday approved a petition by the widow of state Rep. Ray Ruiz, an Albuquerque Democrat, creating a class of lab employees who are not required to prove how much radiation they where exposed to or the cause of their cancer.

Ruiz, who died of lung cancer in 2004, had said he believed his illness was related to his work with asbestos at the lab more than 30 years ago.

"I made a promise to my husband to continue his fight for just compensation" by creating an easier path for lab employees who later developed cancer," Ruiz's widow, Harriet Ruiz, said in a news release.

The petition covers workers who developed any one of 22 specified cancers after working for at least 250 days in certain parts of the lab between March 15, 1943 and Dec. 31, 1975. Between 400 and 600 former and current lab workers could get $150,000 plus medical coverage. Survivors also might be eligible for the $150,000 payment.

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, a Santa Fe Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican, said they would lobby Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to approve the petition, which is expected.

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