An out-of-service nuclear facility that played an important role in the Cold War is still affecting people today. It once produced weapons-grade uranium for the military but has since been decommissioned, and an environmental clean-up is on progress. The problem is, some ex-workers at the plant have gotten sick due to radiation exposure. There is a process in place that is designed to assist with this, and some workers who suffered an occupational illness may even qualify for home healthcare services. Except, the government is turning a blind eye to the growing problem of people getting sick.
Department of Energy Not Taking the Matter Seriously
For some, the problems extend to the whole family. In the case of Calvin Parker, he developed an aggressive form of prostate cancer while his wife has beryllium disease and her mother, who also worked at the plant, died from cancer. The type of prostate cancer seen from these cases is more aggressive and malignant that what is typically seen. The Department of Energy is slow to approve claims or study ongoing problems.
To understand the exposure workers faced, it’s helpful to understand how the weapons were made. Uranium-238 is the type of uranium that comes out of the ground. In order for it to qualify as weapons grade, it needs to be refined to make uranium-235. The Department of Energy tests for uranium-235, but their tests don’t look for uranium-234. This was another isotope that most workers were exposed to, and scientists believe it was exposure to this isotope that brought on the unusual cancer rates.
What’s worse is a study completed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health did not fault any causal link between radiation exposure and the illnesses reported by employees. Essentially, all the agencies that should’ve been helping these people have all failed them. Calvin Parker is only one example wherein a small department of 14 men, nine men suffer from this aggressive form of prostate cancer. They have applied multiple times for assistance and filed claims as required, but they have had little to no success.
Creation of the EEOICPA
EEOICPA stands for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, which was created in 2001. Congress enacted this program but intentionally underestimated how many people would need assistance. They projected the program would cost $120 million annually to compensate over 3,000 people. However, there has been over $12 billion spent to compensate more than 50,000 workers. Parker’s wife filed her claim in 2003 and 2009, both of which were denied. In 2015, it was finally approved retroactively, but she had not recouped any of the expenses she had to pay under her own insurance plan, which was an 80/20 one.
Finding Help Through Benefits Offered by EEOICPA
Unfortunately, obtaining benefits through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act is not an easy process. To be sure, doing so without the help of a legal professional could put an applicant at risk of being denied the benefits that they truly deserve. That being said, understanding eligibility requirements and the application process can be difficult for anyone who is not familiar with the system.
Ultimately, if you are hoping to pursue a claim through the EEOICPA, we urge you to reach out to a skilled professional with specific experience in this complex area. Do not put your chances of receiving benefits at risk; especially with the incredible benefits offered by an energy workers compensation program. Contact a dedicated professional who can help you throughout each step of the process.
Do You Need Help with a Claim?
EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries may have some home healthcare services available, provided you qualify under the program. If you have questions and want to know more, including about home healthcare services, contact United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care to find out what options are available. We have significant experience assisting our clients pursue benefits through the EEOICPA, and we are eager to begin working on your behalf as soon as you are ready. Let one of our knowledgeable team members answer all your questions.