Letter to the Editor
The Daily Gazette
KAPL EXCLUSION from DOE COMPENSATION BILL
In the past months, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has offered the first ever government admissions that the nuclear weapons programs at government-owned production plants and labs caused widespread health problems among workers. Later this year, in a long overdue attempt to right a grievous wrong, Congress will consider legislation providing up to $200,000 compensation to each stricken worker, or their survivors (Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Act of 2000 [S.2519]).
But predictably , even before this unprecedented bill reaches the floor for certain passage, it has been undermined by Naval Reactors so as to exclude affected workers at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) and the Kesselring Site Operation (KSO). This devious maneuver denies equal treatment to hundreds of present and former workers at KAPL and KSO who have been exposed to and received bodily intakes of both beryllium and radionuclides. At least one-hundred-fifty of these workers have died as a result of exposures to beryllium, radiation, and/or asbestos. Beryllium and ionizing radiation are no less damaging to workers at Naval Reactor facilities than to employees at Hanford, Paducah, Rocky Flats, and other DOE sites.
Until Secretary Richardson acknowledged responsibility for this long standing government abuse of American citizens, all AEC/DOE facilities have stonewalled any attempt to unearth the truth about extensive worker health problems. Obviously, Naval Reactors is planning to continue this prior policy of coverup. Naval Reactors chooses to deny even the widows of the deceased employees this meager compensation because it could open a Pandora’s box to other Naval Reactors misdeeds.
If Senators Schumer and Moynihan are seeing to the health and safety of their constituents, in this case the past and present workers at KAPL and KSO, they will ensure that this unconscionable exemption is nowhere to be found in the final bill.
Robert G. Stater
105 Pashley Rd.
Scotia, NY 12302