SENATOR MURKOWSKI STRESSES THE NEED TO QUICKLY ASSIST AMCHITKA WEAPONS EMPLOYEES
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today called for speedier processing of compensation payments for illnesses contracted by who workers labored on United States nuclear programs like the former one on Amchitka Island.
“Developing a compensation program is difficult, but in all too many cases the nation’s nuclear workers are dealing with horrible health consequences as a result of the occupational exposures they faced,” said Senator Murkowski during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing into the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. “These workers and their families now need our help.”
Murkowski noted six major complaints about the program:
- Excessively long delays in adjudicating claims,
- the records burden to qualify for aid is still too great,
- radiation “dose reconstructions” sometimes needed for workers to qualify for aid are still taking too long,
- explanations for denial of benefits are still inadequate,
- the compensation process is not always fair to relatives of workers, and
- the program needs to be fixed to cover Department of Defense subcontractor employees – currently only workers employed directly or indirectly by the Department of Energy are eligible for compensation
Nearly 2,200 people worked on the Amchitka Island nuclear weapons test in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Many are now facing problems gaining compensation, medical assistance and disability benefits for the illnesses they face as a result of radiation and contamination exposures. Amchitka Island is located on the southwest of the Aleutian Island Chain.