Oct. 11, 2004 – Thousands of workers who helped build Cold War-era bombs or cleaned up nuclear waste will be able to access a $1 billion compensation program more easily after Congress approved a major overhaul of the program Friday.
Previously, the Energy Department administered the four-year-old program, and workers had to contact their original employers to receive compensation for their work-related injuries and illnesses. Many of the companies closed years ago, and few workers received any money.
Now, the Labor Department will administer the program, and the government will pay the compensation bills, instead of the contractors who ran the nuclear sites.
Workers can receive up to $250,000 for disabilities and lost wages, and are eligible for an additional $150,000 if they have radiation-related cancer or diseases linked to beryllium and silica, two dangerous chemicals used at nuclear sites. The children or spouse of workers who die from job-related illnesses can receive $125,000.