November 17, 2003
I am appealing to you on behalf of the ill workers and their families who have filed for relief under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Plan. As an advocate for these claimants, I have received numerous calls recently from desperate and frustrated claimants who have all but given up hope. Some have had claims in the system well over two years, and are still being asked to produce records, some for the third and fourth time. Efforts were recently defeated in the attempt to transfer most of the Department of Energy's part in the EEOICPA to the Department of Labor. I understand that congressional efforts and a General Accounting Office investigation into the DOE's poor performance in implementation of the bill are still underway. I urge you, on behalf of these claimants, to keep your promise to help the ill workers, and support this cause.
A retiree called me recently, after seeing an article in the local newspaper regarding the claims stalemate. In tears, he asked me what he had done wrong, if anything could be done to advance his case before he became too ill to fight for himself. As a former Y-12 worker, his cancer does not fall under the Special Exposure Cohort status that covers similar cancers for K-25 workers. I am attempting to have recently-discovered documents from Y-12 released to possibly aid in the addition of Y-12 as a SEC site, but this will be some time in the future, if at all. The gentleman said he had contacted your office, and talked with DOL and dose reconstruction personnel, but his case remains "under advisement". It was recently reported that less than one percent of the claims submitted to the physicians' panel have been processed. These people deserve better. DOE's request for millions more to "do a better job" has drawn ridicule and disbelief from claimants and advocates like myself. I would find little sympathy from my employer if I were to promise to do a better job, if I could only receive twice my current wages.
As one of the architects of the EEOICPA, Senator Thompson proved to be a staunch ally of the ill workers while he was in office. I beg of you to continue that legacy for the people of Tennessee who have given so much to the country, and are receiving so little in return.