National Nuclear Workers for Justice

PRESS RELEASE
September 14, 2002

Denied State Labor and Industry's Worker Compensation Administration Insurance Benefits

Contacts:
Vina Colley
Tel. 740-259-4688
email: vcolley@earthlink.net

Gai Oglesbee
Tel. 509-943-9307
email: goglesbee@att.net

"I thought the US Department of Energy was going to help sick workers," said Vina Colley -- a disabled Portsmouth, Ohio Gaseous Diffusion plant worker.

Obviously, the State Labor and Industry's Worker Compensation Administration (L&I) claims with merit are still going to be contested and denied. The L&I regulations vary from state to state.

Vina recently received a letter from the Ohio State L&I administrators informing her that they intend to deny her claim after originally approving her benefit payments since the 1980s. The Industrial Commission of Ohio scheduled a hearing September 26, 2002. The L&I physician, Dr. Bernstein and his staff, received 50 of Vina's privacy act protected medical records from the State's L&I agents.

Vina designates, "I couldn't believe Dr. Bernstein, who has never examined me, is recommending that the L&I administrators deny payment for my medical costs and prescription drugs."

"All L&I claimants will be forced to contend with the same conflicts who have, also, filed their claims with the US Department of Labor under the "Energy Employees' Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 Federal law," said Vina.

Vina's respiratory disease (occupational asthma / bronchitis) is caused by chronic exposure to chemicals / radiation in her workplace, such as uranium hexafluoride and uranium 235. The contractor's in-vivo report affirmed Vina has internal deposition (uranium 235) in her lungs. The US Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao's "Interim Regulations" designates that the diagnosis of any benign nodule (neoplasm)is to be viewed as though the tumor is malignant for the purpose of dose reconstruction (another controversial diagnosis). Vina's medical records document damage caused by stress. This sick worker is often hospitalized when her medical condition(s) worsen. Her breathing capacity is diminished. Vina suffers with related chronic infections and is forced to use inhalers to help her breath better. She is diagnosed with pulmonary dysfunction.

By April 2000, government officials admitted liability for their nuclear facility caretakers' negligence and abuse that caused death, disease, and suffering of untold numbers of workers and their families. Hereinafter, the agency cannot deny all workers were exposed to radiation.

"Like my co-workers, I was put in harm's way without my consent or knowledge," said Vina.

The DOE and President George W. Bush recently informed the public at large that the agency would direct their nuclear facility caretakers not to contest L&I occupational injury claims with merit. The DOE is self-insured. Then, why did the State L&I administrators adopt a defiant stance?

The DOE uses taxpayer funding to reimburse the litigation costs that are compiled by their defendant contractors.