The Senator has triggered an investigation into the Department of Labor (DoL) based off of a whistle blower’s report that the agency manipulated regulatory practices to avoid paying out compensation to government employees who worked on the Cold War nuclear arsenal.
In late July, a whistle blower charged that the DoL has been deliberately slow-rolled the process by which Cold War era nuclear workers get compensated for the dangerous radioactive exposure they endured. As the agency has dragged its feet, more of these workers have died of cancer, and other radiation-related illnesses. These workers have missed out on thousands in hazard compensation owed to them by the federal government.
The Senate, in the last week, passed a bill funding the DoL that orders the agency’s Office of Inspector General to carry out a comprehensive review of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP), in order to investigate the whistleblower’s claims. The goal of the investigation is to determine “the impact of policy changes in the past two years on the workers applying for the funds, as well as whether the program is currently fulfilling its statutory mission.”
The Appropriation Committee issued a statement, reacting to the start of the investigation. “The committee is disturbed by reports that a DOL whistleblower charged that the DOL’s Division of [EEOICPA] thwarted workers’ attempts to seek compensation by ‘writing regulations that made qualification much more stringent than Congress intended, failing to disclose all the application rules, changing eligibility rules midstream, and delaying compensation for years until the sicker workers died.'”
Outside groups that advocate on behalf of nuclear workers, like the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Group (ANWAG), have also raised similar concerns in the past, at the sluggish and anemic pace of government payouts to the nuclear workers.
An ANWAG official, Terrie Berrie said, “This program has deteriorated and these amendments will definitely improve the fairness of the program for claimants,” and she was thrilled to see Senate take active actions in order to resolve the situations.