More Nuclear Workers in Missouri Eligible for Federal Payments

September 9, 2010

People who handled material for nuclear weapons at a waste-storage site near Lambert Airport in St. Louis are now eligible for special federal compensation.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Labor Department expanded the program to include those who worked at least 250 workdays at the St. Louis Airport Storage Site from Jan. 3, 1947, through Nov. 2, 1971.

Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. refined uranium at a plant in St. Louis during World War II for the nation’s first atomic bombs. Work continued at other locations until 1966, and waste from uranium processing was dumped at the airport site.

Ex-workers and their survivors are eligible for $150,000 and payment of medical expenses if they have been diagnosed with one of 22 cancers and meet other criteria.

Workers and their survivors at Mallinckrodt and other sites were already eligible.

Storage-site workers are eligible for “special exposure cohort” status as a result of the Labor Department designation, which means they automatically qualify for the payments if they meet the criteria. Previously, those workers had to apply through a process that included individual evaluations of medical status.

Labor Department spokesman Rich Kulczewski said the department will contact people who may be eligible, though he said many potentially eligible people already may have applied for individual assistance.

He urged anyone who fits the criteria to contact the program office at 866-534-0599.

Thousands of workers at Mallinckrodt’s nuclear production facilities were exposed to large doses of radiation, authorities have said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many people worked at the waste-storage site near the airport.

Legislation was passed in 2000 to compensate former energy workers exposed to high levels of radioactive materials.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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