Mar 18, 2008

Aid-eligible, sick ex-Flats workers will be sought

By Laura Frank, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)

Government officials decided Monday to spend the next three weeks looking for sick Rocky Flats employees who should be eligible for immediate compensation, but have fallen through the cracks.

The research will be done by two experts on Rocky Flats, one a government scientist and the other an appointee to a presidential panel that oversees the compensation program.

The decision came after members of the panel decided to further investigate reports in the Rocky Mountain News that some workers had been overlooked.

Congress set up the program in 2000 to provide financial and medical help to atom bomb workers whose jobs jeopardized their health.

Their survivors can also apply for compensation.

Workers are eligible for automatic compensation if they were or should have been monitored for neutron radiation.

Brant Ulsh is a scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control.

He oversaw the scientific work to determine who should have been monitored.

Ulsh, who will help with the three-week review, said, "Whether there could be a pool of other people (who should have been monitored), it's not impossible, but there's no evidence for it."

But Jack Weaver, the former deputy director of plutonium operations at the site, disagrees.

"I think it's entirely possible somebody could have gotten irradiated, gotten a dose of radiation, without being accounted for," he said.

He added that, particularly, people who worked outside the plutonium areas might have slipped through the cracks.

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