Albuquerque Journal Staff Report
Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has introduced legislation making it easier for individuals who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory after 1976 to receive compensation from work-related illnesses.
In 2007, the federal government established a designation at Los Alamos that made workers who contracted radiogenic cancers automatically eligible to receive compensation.
But Udall's office said Friday the compensation rules imposed on workers who worked at LANL after 1976 require a high burden of proof to demonstrate their illnesses were work related.
Udall's bill would expand the so-called Special Exposure Cohort to include individuals who worked at LANL from 1976 to the present, provided they are diagnosed with the cancers stipulated under the cohort and worked an aggregated total of 250 days at LANL.
The legislation is named in honor of Ray Ruiz, a former state representative who Udall's office said developed and died from cancer as a result of his work for the lab. Ruiz helped establish the first cohort designation.
"This legislation would ensure that these workers who so generously served their country receive a small measure of justice in the form of compensation," Udall said in a news release.
Udall has been in contact with employees who cannot receive compensation because their work at LANL began a few days too late for them to be included in the cohort, according to the statement.