The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Saturday, February 08, 2003

DOE expands cancer screening to include construction workers
Only former plant workers in Paducah and Portsmouth were eligible, but Oak Ridge construction workers were included.

By Bill Bartleman

Construction workers who were involved in projects at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant soon will be eligible to participate in a health screening program that includes testing for early signs of lung cancer.

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning said he was notified Friday that the program is being expanded to cover construction workers at the enrichment plants in Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio. The screening for those workers will begin in the fall.

Previously, only former plant workers in Paducah and Portsmouth were eligible, although construction workers at three Department of Energy facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., were included.

"This is good news," said Bunning, R-Southgate. "It is only fair that these individuals be attributed to the same care that is already being offered to former workers at other DOE sites to provide for their health and safety."

A DOE spokesman said he could not comment on Bunning's announcement or release further details until next week. A telephone number (513-558-5728) provided by Bunning for construction workers to call to get additional information was not answered late Friday afternoon.

The cancer screening involves a specialized CT scan administered in a mobile unit that makes periodic visits to Paducah. It has the ability to detect tiny nodules that aren't visible in other forms of testing.

The screening program, coordinated with medical personnel from Queens College in New York, also involves a hearing test, breathing test and other exams.

Those with problems will be referred to physicians for additional evaluation and treatment.

Bunning said DOE decided to expand the program because of problems detected in construction workers in Tennessee. The expansion potentially involves more than 30,000 people who were involved in construction projects during the 50-year history of the Paducah plant.