Washington State US House Representative "Doc" Hasting's
TOWNE HALL MEETING
February 17, 2003 - 5:30 p.m to 7:00 p.m.
To begin, "U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-3rd District, has called for hearings into the backlog of sick worker claims."
Quote: "Indicating that workers are dying as the number of claims builds, Wamp said, 'Some extremely sick individuals are being needlessly delayed because of a lack of communication between the agencies involved. '" In a Feb. 12 letter to the chairmen of the Judiciary and Education and Workforce Committees, Wamp called for an examination as to whether petitions for special status are being processed in an "expeditious manner" and into the interaction between the Department of Energy and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health over records needed for so called "dose reconstructions" or histories of exposures.
Quote: "I firmly believe that we need to give this law a chance to work, but we must also be sensitive to the somber fact that many of these workers and their families do not have time," wrote Wamp.
Rep Ted Strickland (Ohio) and 16 other H.R. agents sponsored amendment H.R. 5493; and 7 Senators also sponsor the same amendment -- S. 3058. Senator Hillary Clinton is one of the sponsors. If enacted, the amendment should improve a few very flawed issues. The amendment (like Clinton's Executive Order #13179) specifically states "toxic substance" in addition to radiation, beryllium, and silica exposure.
This amendment is still not yet introduced on the floor of the 108th House or Senate.
Regarding the US Health and Human Services (HHS) - Center for Disease Control President (CDC) Bush's Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health Meeting held January 7 and 8, 2003:
Quote: "In December 2000 the President delegated responsibility for funding, staffing, and operating the Board to the US Health and Human Services (HHS), which subsequently delegated this authority to the CDC. NIOSH implements this responsibility for CDC. The charter was signed on August 3, 2001 and in November, 2001, completed the appointment of an initial roster of 10 Board members. In April, and again in August 2002, the President appointed additional members to ensure more balanced representation on the Board. Purpose: This board is charged with (a) providing advice to the Secretary, HHS on the development of guidelines under Executive Order 13179; (b) providing advice to the Secretary, HHS on the scientific validity and quality of dose reconstruction efforts performed for this Program; and (c) upon request by the Secretary, HHS, advise the Secretary on whether there is a class of employees at any Department of Energy facility who were exposed to radiation but for whom it is not feasible to estimate their radiation dose, and on whether there is reasonable likelihood that such radiation doses may have endangered the health of members of this class."
Quote from the President's Advisory Board Meeting Minutes - page 25.
"This means that we've received, assembled, reviewed and evaluated the readily available information pertinent to the claim and assigned the case to a NIOSH or ORAU (Oak Ridge Associated Universities $70000,000 NIOSH dose reconstruction contractor) health physicists. For 14 claims we've completed the draft dose reconstruction report called for in our rule, completed the close-out interview with the claimant and received a completed OCAS-1 form closing the dose reconstruction process. All of these 14 cases have been transmitted back to the DOL for final adjudication.
We're particularly pleased to see the number of dose reconstruction begin to rise. We have a ways to go, obviously, before we achieve the more than 200 completed dose reconstructions per week which we need to achieve to make progress against our current backlog. . . We are currently receiving an average of nearly 80 calls per day."
Jerry Tudor (Oak Ridge worker) died a few months ago with cancer spread throughout his body. He was the first person to file a claim and never received any recognition. Paul Smith is No. 5 on the NIOSH dose reconstruction list after proving his qualified cancer. He has completed his interview with the NIOSH- ORAU health physics examiner; but he refused to sign a waiver might have forfeited his civil rights. He is one of the 14 phone interviewees who is waiting for his dose reconstruction data to be elevated to the DOL for final adjudication.
My daughter Carol and I filed in early August 2001. We are both cancer qualified and have received our NIOSH assignment numbers. I am No. 548. Because the entities have serious conflicts of interest regarding our claims, WE are simply ignored.
Whether anyone agrees with the endorsement of Federal Law, this American Law was overwhelmingly approved by the members of Congress October 31, 2000. The law should be enforced rather than be inundated with violations of established civil rights laws, one after the other.
In conclusion, the government agents seem to be paying down the debt owed to the deserving RECA law claimants who held I.O.Us since 1990. The US Justice Department administrates the RECA law provisions which includes downwinders. As you know, the "Energy Employees' Occupational Illness Program Act of 2000" is an entitlement law. The 1990 RECA law is an appropriations law. Reportedly, the compensation payout is about 69% payment to RECA qualifiers among 192,000 claimants, by comparison to less than 29% payment to a select number of EEOIC qualifiers.
Claimants reference the EEOIC as a death certificate that, so far, has only been awarded to a few survivors.
It is noted that not a single Hanford cancer qualified claimant has been compensated.
Gai Oglesbee, Independent Advocate
607 Catskill Street
Richland, WA 99352