As mentioned in Saturday's article, Senator Mark Udall is drafting reform legislation for EEOICPA. The highlights are on the left column of today's article. In order to get this legislation out of the committee, legislative hearings will need to be held.
As soon as a bill number is assigned to this legislation, I will send you and others information on how you can help get the hearings.
The Senate is indeed paying attention. They visited the blog this morning to read about last week's news of the beryllium exposures at LANL's TA-41. The notion that these worker safety issues are relics of an era when we didn't know any better is now thoroughly dispelled. Thanks and keep up the good work!
Nuke worker bill picking up support
Legislation seeks justice for victims of weapons raceBy Laura Frank, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Published February 3, 2009 at 10:26 a.m.
Deadly Denial: 3-day special report
The Charlie Wolf Act
The legislation, proposed by Sen. Mark Udall, would revamp the troubled federal compensation program for ailing nuclear weapons workers. Among the proposed highlights:
Establish a board to oversee implementation of the program and strengthen the ombudsman's role.
Add cost-of-living increases for delayed compensation payments.
Add more radiation-linked cancers to the list of those covered in the program.
Require automatic entry into the streamlined process for aid, called the "special exposure cohort," if exposure records are not found and analyzed within 180 days.
Order a review of all program regulations and of the scientific models used to estimate radiation doses.
After his brother's funeral Saturday, Rick Wolf started talking with a couple he'd never met.
He recounted how difficult it had been for Charlie Wolf to prove he deserved federal compensation for the brain cancer that the government eventually admitted was linked to work at U.S. nuclear weapons sites.
Charlie Wolf had become something of a celebrity as he battled brain cancer and the federal government to the very end of his life, determined to prove that he and other sick nuclear weapons workers were being denied aid that was promised them. His story was chronicled last July in a Rocky Mountain News special report, "Deadly Denial."
Nearly 200 people attended Wolf's funeral Saturday — some of them folks who knew the Highlands Ranch man only through newspaper stories. At the service they celebrated the news that U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., plans to introduce the Charlie Wolf Act to reform the compensation program.
Beginning Wednesday, members of the state's congressional delegation will begin outlining legislation to improve the federal nucelar weapons workers compensation program.
And the delegation is not stopping there.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has asked Udall to work together on the legislation.
Top Senate Republicans are in the loop.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is one of those lawmakers. Alexander has twice co-sponsored legislation to improve the aid initiative, called the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.
Alexander will study Udall's legislation as he continues working with senators from both parties to improve the program, an Alexander aide said Monday.
The new legislation is expected to pick up where reform bills in both the House and Senate left off last session.
Those who have followed the plight of Wolf and other nuclear weapons workers and survivors have high hopes for the legislation.
That includes the couple who spoke with Charlie Wolf's brother at Wolf's funeral.
"You know," Melinda Lorenz said to Rick Wolf, "we had no connection to Charlie before today."
Lorenz and John Coles of Denver went to Wolf's memorial service after reading in the newspaper that morning about his life and the legislation named in his honor.
"I read the article and said we need to be there," Coles said. "It's important to support the years of service that people like Charlie Wolf have done. They were on the front lines of the Cold War."
Rick Wolf said he was touched by their gesture.
"It's an honor to be here," Coles responded. "And we'd like to be there for the celebration when the act is signed into law by the president."
On Wednesday, Colorado's congressional delegation will begin outlining reforms it wants in the compensation program for sick nuclear weapons workers from Rocky Flats, near Denver, and across the nation. Here is what some lawmakers — both new and old, Democrat and Republican — said about the work:
"I've been working with Sen. Udall since I took office to help make sure these workers receive the justice to which they are entitled. These individuals provided a valuable service to our nation, and they should receive the proper health care and benefits related to their service to our country. "
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden
"Under Sen. Udall's leadership, much progress has been made in cleaning up Rocky Flats and caring for its workers, but much work remains. I look forward to picking up where he left off and plan on introducing similar legislation in the House that will bring much-needed relief and compensation to these brave men and women who have suffered so much in service to their country."
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder
"I look forward to reviewing Sen. Udall's legislation. I'm sympathetic to the plight of the workers and will do everything I can to make sure that they receive all of the treatment and compensation they deserve."
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora
"The congressman has directed one of his senior aides to meet with members of Sen. Udall's staff to review the proposed changes to the legislation."
Catherine Mortensen, spokeswoman for Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs
"I have consistently supported efforts to compensate Rocky Flats employees who have sacrificed to keep our country safe."
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver
"Congressman Salazar and then-Congressman Udall have worked closely on this issue in the past, and he will continue to have a close working relationship on radiation compensation with Sen. Udall. ... He has watched many constituents get hung up in bureaucratic red tape while their health is in great decline, and he understands that we must work to fix this as quickly as possible."
Eric Wortman, spokesman for Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa
"Sen. Bennet will work closely with Sen. Udall and other members of the Colorado delegation to assure that Rocky Flats workers and their survivors are provided with the compensation they deserve. They put their lives on the line in defense of our nation and deserve fair and timely compensation for their sacrifice."
Michael Amodeo, spokesman for Sen. Michael Bennet.
- M.E. Sprengelmeyer