The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Government should reach fair settlement with nuclear workers


EDITOR:

After World War II, the federal government contracted and subcontracted with companies throughout the country to develop and manufacture components and material for the nuclear weapons program. It is now an acknowledged fact that the government and those agencies and companies engaged in this nuclear industry were negligent in adequately informing and protecting workers against the myriad health risks associated with the production of nuclear material.

It has been no surprise then, that many within this workforce have suffered from an inordinate number of debilitating diseases, many resulting in premature death. Many within this population have suffered from untreatable cancers. The evidence in human suffering is conclusive and damnable.

It has been a bitter harvest for many of these men and their families. Too many have spent their retirement years battling illness and sickness, while others haven't lived that long. As we look back at the conditions under which these men labored and compare the stringent safety rules and guidelines in place to protect workers today, it is no wonder so many have suffered.

Were these men expendable? Was the federal government and the industry it created justified in promoting the production of nuclear weaponry over the protection of the workforce? Are the wives and widows of these men deserving of some sort of redress? After some 50 years, can the government finally address this wrong, which it created?

Knowing full well no form of compensation can assuage the pain and loss, it is the hope of the families victimized by this tragedy that the government can and will accept its complicity and strive to reach a fair and equitable settlement.

STEPHEN LEONARD

Rochester, Ill.