DOE Settles Suit With Workers at Ohio Project

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

A lawsuit over an alleged failure to adequately monitor and protect workers from radiation exposure has been settled between the Department of Energy (DOE) and current and former employees at the Mound Environmental Management Project in Miamisburg, Ohio.

The settlement, subject to final approval by a U.S. District Court, includes several provisions, such as lifetime radiological occupational disease insurance, other insurance benefits, a worker radiation dose study and enhanced radiation and employment protection for existing workers.

"This settlement helps resolve an unfortunate chapter at Mound," Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said. "By improving radiation protection and providing long-term health insurance for any work-related diseases, we can hopefully alleviate some of the concerns of the workers now and in the future."

DOE is coming to terms with its past by providing primary health insurance coverage that current and former workers can take with them for the rest of their working lives, said lawyer Reuben A. Guttman of Provost & Umphrey, which represented the workers.

The suit, filed in August 1995 by Katherine Levell, her co-workers and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers (PACE) Union, accused Monsanto Research Corp. and E.G.&G. Mound Applied Technologies of failing to determine workers' radiation exposure.

The two companies are the former contractors at DOE's Mound site, which began operations in 1947 as a nuclear weapons production facility and operated until 1995. Mound provides nuclear battery sources for NASA, and its former nuclear weapons operations are undergoing environmental cleanup.

More than 30 Mound employees claimed that certain post-job bioassay samples collected to measure internal radiation doses remained untested for more than three years.

"Our 330,000 union members applaud Mr. Richardson's compassion and vision in taking responsibility for the atomic workers who toiled on behalf of our nation's defense behind a veil of secrecy and at great peril to themselves," PACE Executive Vice President Robert Wages said. "This settlement is a constructive step toward making peace with a work force who trusted management, but was victimized by its disregard for radiation protection rules."

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