Jul 31, 2008

Workers bid for special cohort status

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

A petition for special compensation for a new class of workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory is under review by an advisory board of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the petitioner said last week.

Andrew Evaskovich, a LANL guard, said he hoped the board would visit Los Alamos during their deliberations, later this year or early next year.

Evaskovich said he started his efforts in the fall of 2006, by helping former State Sen. Harriet Ruiz, who led a successful petition on behalf of her late husband Ray Ruiz and hundreds of LANL workers. They were designated a Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) in July 2007.

“Approval of that petition cut my work in half,” Evaskovich said, “because it covered exposures up until 1975.”

The first SEC that was approved covered LANL workers likely to have been exposed to radioactive lanthanum in Technical Area 10 at the Bayo Canyon facility from Sept. 1, 1944, to July 8,1963.

The special status speeds up the process by which certain laboratory employees from March 15, 1945, through 1975 would receive compensation under a federal entitlement program for nuclear workers.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, passed originally in 2000 and amended since then, allows for compensating employees in a designated special cohort who have developed any of 22 kinds of cancer, without a full dose reconstruction.

The provision recognized that complete medical histories were not always available from the Department of Energy sites.

The petition now under consideration covers support workers who worked at LANL from 1976 through 2005. They had to have worked for at least 250 days in operational areas where radioactive materials were present, or the days they did work could be added to the qualifications for other cohorts if there were overlaps.

Support service employees in the petition are meant to include “security guards, firefighters, laborers, custodians, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, pipe-fitters, sheet metal workers, ironworkers, welders, maintenance workers, truck drivers, delivery persons, rad technicians and area work coordinators.”

The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health accepted the petition for consideration earlier this year.

“They can redefine the class,” Evaskovich said. “They can lengthen the time period even up to now, although I doubt that will happen.”

He said the board was also authorized to enlarge the definition of workers.
“Or carve off,” he said. “’We don’t think truck drivers were affected,’ they could say.”

Evaskovich, a former state police officer and a former officer in the local International Guards Union of America, said he has been deeply involved in health and safety issues and research at the laboratory for several years.

The petition is justified, according to the formal document “because NIOSH is not able to estimate with sufficient accuracy radiation doses for the identified class.”

In approving a SEC for the period 1943 through 1975, the new petition notes that an evaluation report said accurate data was insufficient “at a minimum” up until 1975, opening the door to further claims by adding, “Nevertheless, the potential for monitored and unmonitored intakes has existed throughout the history of the site.”

An extensive appendix lists numerous audits, reports, studies, investigations, lists, workbooks, maps, charts and other supporting documents.

Evaskovich said there were two main arguments.

One was that the air monitoring was inadequate for dose reconstruction during the period, and the other has to do with the exotic radionuclides that have been used at the laboratory.

“The bioassay system doesn’t cover all these,” he said. “They missed a lot of stuff from what I see in the documents.”

He said the typical external dose construction starts with readings from thermoluminiscence dosimeters and the internal dose comes from urinalysis.

“If you don’t have those, you use coworkers’ data and then the environmental information,” he said. “You can’t use coworkers’ data for support services because they move around all the time.”


Anonymous said...

Exposures again. Jeez Frank, get over it. Living in Minnesota, or wherever, you won't have another rem in your life. If you pretend to care about the current status of LANL ("LANL: The Rest Of the Story") then please stick to that. Otherwise, please find another host to do whatever it is you do besides delay postings.

Frank Young said...

When you have a coherent comment I'll try to respond to it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, why on earth would you post this? It has nothing to do with LANL. It's not as if it mentions LANL in the first sentence.

Ummm. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

The post was perfectly coherent. Your response was one of denial. Touch a nerve? Past hosts of this blog and its predecessors were more self-aware about their predudices.

Frank Young said...

Exposures again? Yes, they are in the news. Again. What is difficult about this concept?

Minnesota? I've never been there. Is there something magical about the place that halts irradiation from an internal exposure?

Current status of LANL? This story from the Los Alamos Monitor about LANL workers from 1976 to 2005 seems current to me. Even though "rest of the story" doesn't imply current.

Another host? I nominate 9:29 PM to run LANL: The Current Story. Go ahead and get it started. I'll provide a link to it.

Delay postings? What postings?

You aren't touching a nerve, you're wasting my time. Do you deny that is your agenda?

Anonymous said...

Don't you understand? Your job, Frank, is to post about how we are underpaid and how safety and security rules are hampering our brilliant science. Get with the program. NOW!

Frank Young said...

Sorry, I missed my cue.

Anonymous said...

Jeez guys. Since when does Frank, or for that matter, any blogger, owe you anything? Ignore the story if you don't like it. Or start your own blog - they are free you know.

Anonymous said...

different subject...2 nd axis of DARHT is down. plenty of finger pointing. LANS will not be able to delivery on the first dual axis shot until next CY. well pass the deadline. LLNL my come provide oversite