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Archive for Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Cold War plant workers to receive compensation

January 16, 2001

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— Former southeast Kansas chemical plant workers who contracted radiation-related diseases while working on government nuclear weapons contracts may be eligible for compensation.

Saying it neglected sick workers for too long, the government is offering thousands of sick Cold War-era workers nationwide help in covering medical bills and a $150,000 lump-sum payment.

Spencer Chemical, a Galena plant that shut down in 1963, is among more than 300 eligible sites in 37 states, according to a list released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"For many years, the government promoted a legacy of neglect toward those workers who helped build the strongest national security in the world," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said. "We failed to take care of workers who had become sick from exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards."

Now, he said, government officials are prepared "to right our past wrongs."

Finding the Kansas workers will be difficult. The government plans to take out newspaper ads and pass out fliers.

Officials say it would be wrong to conclude that people who worked at any of the plants automatically became ill, because uranium levels varied.

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