January 9, 2008
Las Vegas, NV – U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada addressed the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health today to express his support for the approval of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) Special Exposure Cohort (SEC).
“I sit together with these petitioners because they have worked so hard on behalf of their families, friends and colleagues,” said Reid. “They have faced injustice. I am hopeful that you will agree and grant the Nevada Test Site Special Exposure Cohort designation.”
Reid has been fighting along side former Nevada Test Site workers to help them receive compensation for the illnesses they contracted while working at the test site.
Approval of the Petition will allow workers employed at the site during the underground testing years to join the SEC. Granting SEC designation will simplify and expedite compensation for eligible workers employed at the site during the underground testing years.
Senator Reid’s testimony, as prepared for delivery, is below.
Remarks as prepared:
“Thank you for allowing me to be here to speak on behalf of the workers, survivors, and Petitioners who are here with us today.
“These former workers are our Cold War veterans, and they have made tremendous sacrifices for the security of our nation.
“I am proud of my role in passing the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act…but, eight years later, I am deeply troubled by how badly this program is failing Nevada Test Site workers.
“The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is standing by flawed and inadequate science. This situation cannot continue and that is why I am here today.
“The dose reconstruction process is not working for Nevada Test Site workers.
“As members of the Advisory Board, I expect you to acknowledge there are shortcomings with the National Institute’s evaluation – if the Board fails to understand this, the results will be tragic for thousands of our Cold War Veterans.
“I sit together with these petitioners because they have worked so hard on behalf of their families, friends and colleagues. They have faced injustice. I am hopeful that you will agree and grant the Nevada Test Site Special Exposure Cohort designation.
“The Board needs to understand that the badging issue was a widespread practice—workers did not always wear their badges.
“I urge you to listen to the men and women here today who were actually on the ground, working on our nation’s nuclear deterrent at the Nevada Test Site. They are the ones who can really tell you what went on out there.
“Peter White, who is sitting here with me today, was directed not to damage his badge again unless he wanted to find a job somewhere else.
“Oscar Foger, who is here in the audience today, can tell you how supervisors would put a coffee can at the entrance of the tunnels. Workers were expected to toss their badges in these buckets before they were exposed to radiation while serving their country. We all know why they were asked to do this…
“Even the Lead Health Physicist at the Nevada Test Site, Jay Brady, admitted to directing workers to, I quote, “not get overexposed.” Think about that… These men and women were ordered to take tremendous risks with their health, and their supervisors covered it all up.
“I think the widespread tampering and failure to wear badges at the Nevada Test Site is something that the National Institute has simply refused to acknowledge.
“Maybe they still think the world is flat too.
“I ask that the Board direct its contractor and the National Institute to listen to the stories of the workers who are contacting my office and the many more who are out there.
“Reality and Protocol are two very different things and they need to understand that.
“Additionally, the National Institute relies upon the site profile to perform dose reconstructions – shockingly, they haven’t even completed it.
“The site profile is continually evolving. It’s grossly incomplete, and there is no way the Board can ignore this when considering the petition.
“The Internal Dose Revision to the site profile hasn’t even been published, yet this agency moved forward with its evaluation of the Petition anyway.
“We should all be skeptical of the National Institute’s judgment that it can estimate Nevada Test Site workers’ radiation dose without even having a completed site profile.
“Dose reconstruction alone is not enough to ensure that all workers are compensated justly.
“Congress’ intent was to provide workers with timely, fair and adequate compensation. Unless we grant them Special Exposure Cohort status, we all know this is not going to happen.
“Thank you again for this opportunity to express my strong support for Nevada Test Site workers.”
RenoBruce R. Thompson
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