Payouts to Injured Nuclear Industry Workers Reach $6 Billion

August 27, 2010

The federal government has paid more than $6 billion in benefits and compensation to employees who became injured working in nuclear weapons industry.

More than 61,000 workers have received the payments in the nine years since the benefits law, Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), was passed.

The program has been criticized in the past by some lawmakers for slow payments and targeted by some budget watchers in Washington for scaling back.

On July 31, 2001, the Labor Department began administering Part B of the EEOICPA, which covers current or former workers who have been diagnosed with cancers, beryllium disease, or silicosis, and whose illness was caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while working directly for the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Department contractors and subcontractors, designated atomic weapons employers and beryllium vendors. Since 2001, the Labor Department has delivered $3.4 billion in compensation to nearly 42,000 claimants under Part B of the EEOICPA.

Part E, created by an amendment to the EEOICPA on Oct. 28, 2004, provides federal compensation and medical benefits to contractors and subcontractors of the Energy Department who worked at covered facilities and sustained an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances. Part E compensation payout has exceeded $2 billion.

Medical benefits under both Parts B and E of the EEOICPA total nearly $556 million.

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