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Legal case over compensation for workers in ”uniquely dangerous” nuclear sites

High Court Takes Up Nuclear Site Workers’ Compensation Case (1)  https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/high-court-takes-up-washington-workers-compensation-challenge
Jan. 11, 202  

  • 9th Cir. upheld change to state workers’ compensation law
  • U.S. government warns of costly consequences for contracts

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider the federal government’s challenge to a Washington state workers’ compensation law in a case that could have costly consequences for U.S. government contracts involving hazardous work on federal property.

The justices agreed Monday to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision upholding a Washington law that presumes certain worker health conditions linked to cleanup work at the Hanford Site, a decommissioned federal nuclear production complex, are occupational diseases that can trigger workers’ compensation benefits.

The Department of Energy since 1989 has overseen cleanup at the Hanford Site, which produced weapons-grade plutonium for use in the U.S. nuclear program during World War II and the Cold War. The cleanup of the Hanford site is expected to continue over the next six decades and involve roughly 400 department employees and 10,000 contractors and subcontractors.

In 2018, Washington lawmakers passed legislation, HB 1723, that amended the state’s workers’ compensation law exclusive to the Hanford site, covering at least 100,000 current and former federal contract workers who performed services there over the past 80 years. The law states that presumed occupational diseases stemming from work at Hanford should trigger benefits eligibility, including cancers and other respiratory diseases.

The federal government argued the law exposes government contractors, and by extension the United States, to “massive new costs” that similarly situated state and private employers don’t incur

‘Uniquely Dangerous Workplace’

The Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, arguing the 2018 law discriminated against the United States and that state law shouldn’t apply to federal contract workers at Hanford. The government warned that the logic applied by a panel of Ninth Circuit judges opened the door to other states passing legislation targeting work at federal facilities.

“Congress did not permit States to adopt laws that impose unique burdens on the United States and the firms that it engages to carry out federal functions,” Justice Department attorneys argued. “The practical consequences of the panel’s mistake are far-reaching. Even if the Hanford site is considered in isolation, the decision is likely to cost the United States tens of millions of dollars annually for the remainder of the 21st century.”

Attorneys for Washington state, however, responded that courts have allowed states to regulate workers’ compensation for injuries or illnesses suffered during work on federal land. They argued Washington state has “long tailored its workers’ compensation laws to the dangers faced by particular employees,” noting statutes that protect firefighters and other workers facing special hazards.


“Hanford is a uniquely dangerous workplace, filled with radioactive and toxic chemicals, and private contractors operating there have routinely failed to provide employees with protective equipment and to monitor their exposures to toxic substances,” they argued.

Justice Department attorneys also argued the Ninth Circuit ruling clashed with Supreme Court precedent in a 1988 decision, Goodyear Atomic Corp. v. Miller, which described a similar situation of a state workers’ compensation award for an employee injured at a federally owned facility.

The full Ninth Circuit previously declined to take up the case, and said the Washington law fell properly within a part of federal law that authorizes states to apply their workers’ compensation laws to federal projects.

In a dissent to the Ninth Circuit’s denial of a rehearing, Judge Daniel P. Collins wrote that the panel’s decision clashed with high court precedent, calling it an “egregious error” that would have sweeping consequences.

The U.S. Solicitor General’s office represents the federal government. The Washington Attorney General’s office is defending the state law.

The case is U.S. v. Washington, U.S., No. 21-404, cert granted 1/10/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erin Mulvaney in Washington at emulvaney@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

January 11, 2022 Posted by | employment, health, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Hunterston nuclear power workers need a just transition to sustainable work. No more subsidies to the nuclear industry.

 Workers are key to a just transition at the Hunterston nuclear plant,
which retires today, according to the Scottish Greens.

The nuclear sectorbhas used the occasion to call for more subsidies, despite the UK Government
already subsidising the sector and proposing to charge bill payers upfront
to pay for nuclear power stations that haven’t even been built yet, like
at Hinkley Point.

Commenting, Scottish Greens energy spokesperson Mark
Ruskell said: “Respect and thanks must go to the workers at Hunterston
who have kept our lights on over the decades and those who will continue
the important work of de-commissioning. “These communities deserve a just
transition away from an energy source that is expensive and neither clean
nor sustainable. The vast subsidies involved would be better spent
investing in modern renewable energy solutions that provide a long-term
future for workers and our planet.”

 Scottish Greens 7th Jan 2021

https://greens.scot/news/greens-workers-key-to-hunterston-transition

January 10, 2022 Posted by | employment, politics, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Dismantling of German nuclear reactor will be expensive, but provide jobs for several decades.

Asked about possible job losses, Gundremmingen mayor Tobias Buehler said
the plant’s employees would be busy with dismantling the reactor after the
shutdown. “And this period of dismantling will certainly take another one
or two decades,” Buehler said. Total costs for the dismantling are
estimated by E.ON at 1.1 billion euros ($1.25 billion) per plant. In 2020,
E.ON made provisions of 9.4 billion euros for the nuclear post-operational
phase, including dismantling the facility, packaging and cleaning up the
radioactive waste. The dismantling is expected to be completed by 2040.

 NBC 30th Dec 2021

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/germany-pull-plug-3-its-last-6-nuclear-power-plants-n1286771

January 1, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, employment, Germany | Leave a comment

Plight of Fukushima’s fishermen

In April 2021, the Japanese government decided to discharge radioactive
water stored inside the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into
the Pacific Ocean. TEPCO’s plan is to build a pipeline along the ocean
bed and release diluted processed radioactive water 1 km off the coast of
Fukushima. In November, Greenpeace conducted its 33rd Fukushima radiation
survey since the nuclear disaster, during which we had the opportunity to
interview local fisherman Mr. Haruo Ono. Mr. Ono opens up about the pain he
feels, saying that discharging radioactive water into the ocean will throw
Fukushima’s fishing industry back down into the abyss.

 Greenpeace 20th Dec 2021

December 21, 2021 Posted by | employment, Japan | Leave a comment

Industrial action set to ”cripple” the effective running of UK’s nuclear submarine base.

SPECIALIST staff are to escalate industrial action in a dispute which a
union has said is expected to “cripple” the effective running of UK’s
nuclear submarine base on the Clyde. Unite Scotland has confirmed that its
pay dispute with the ABL Alliance at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD)
Coulport is to escalate with around 70 workers set to take strike action
from next week.

 Herald 9th Dec 2021

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19772953.strike-action-start-next-week-cripple-clyde-nuclear-base/


				
                

December 11, 2021 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

N. Korea replaces, punishes 14 cadres and technicians working on nuclear-powered submarine programThe Central Committee criticized the technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production 


N. Korea replaces, punishes 14 cadres and technicians working on nuclear-powered submarine program

The Central Committee criticized the technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production   https://www.dailynk.com/english/north-korea-replaces-punishes-14-cadres-and-technicians-working-on-nuclear-powered-submarine-program/ By Jeong Tae Joo – 2021.11.15

North Korea recently replaced or punished 14 cadres and technicians tasked with designing small nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered submarines, apparently for failing to meet party criterion. The authorities will likely now face difficulties in their plan to acquire the capability of stealthily striking enemies.

According to multiple Daily NK sources in North Korea on Thursday, the Central Committee’s Military Industries Department began screening designs for nuclear-powered submarines on Nov. 5.

Work on the designs has been ongoing since October of last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said during the Eighth Party Congress in January that “new planning research for a nuclear-powered submarine has been completed and is to enter the final examination process.”

Nuclear-powered submarines are highly stealthy as they need not surface for long periods of time, making them the most likely weapon to survive an enemy’s preemptive strike.

Focusing on advancing the country’s arsenal of asymmetrical strategic weapons, North Korea has assigned its top researchers to the project.

In particular, the authorities reportedly put experts on the task of producing small nuclear reactors, the key to building the submarines, imploring them to “exercise their top abilities, given their rich experience built up over six nuclear tests.”

However, the Central Committee apparently criticized the screening report, which included analysis of design flaws.

Firstly, the Central Committee reportedly said it would “take 10 more years” to build nuclear-powered submarines according to current designs, even though the goal is to complete them by 2025.

The Central Committee also criticized the designs for failing to meet three criteria put forth by the party to achieve its goals.

Though party leadership had stressed 1) improving the capabilities of conventionally powered mini-submarines that are currently deployed, 2) building a new class of submarines capable of carrying North Korea’s existing SLBMs and 3) building nuclear-powered submarines capable of carrying several nuclear launch systems, the Central Committee reportedly judged that these criteria had not been met on the ground.

The Central Committee also criticized technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production. That is to say, the committee took serious issue with designers handing over for final screening a complete comprehensive blueprint that called for large-scale imports of foreign technology and parts during the entire shipbuilding process.

Several basic errors were discovered as well, including a failure by designers to make the technical descriptions in the partial plans and assembly plans match when they drew the blueprints for the small nuclear reactors.

The Central Committee responded by excluding from the research team 14 cadres, researchers and technicians who took part in drawing up the plan. Six of them were kicked out of the party or disciplined.

One of the sources said the six who took responsibility for the failure were exiled with their families to remote areas. He added that the authorities now face snags in their plans, including the need to completely revise the designs for nuclear-powered submarines.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | employment, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Industrial action from Tuesday could ‘cripple’ Clyde nuclear base.


Industrial action from Tuesday could ‘cripple’ Clyde nuclear base, The Herald, By Martin Williams  @Martin1Williams, Senior News Reporter, 15 Nov 21,
  SPECIALIST staff are to down tools on Tuesday in an industrial dispute a union says is expected to “cripple” the effective running of UK’s nuclear submarine base on the Clyde.

The Unite Scotland union has confirmed that around 70 of its members who provide specialist services for the UK’s nuclear deterrent submarines will start an overtime at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) Coulport.

The union has severely criticised the “delay tactics” employed by the ABL Alliance after the workers voted to take industrial action in September in what was then described as a “final warning shot” to ABL Alliance, a joint venture which won a 15-year contract from the Ministry of Defence in 2013 to maintain the weapons systems at Coulport.

Unite Scotland said the specialist staff who provide care and maintenance services for the weapons systems on the Royal Navy nuclear armed submarine fleet took the “historic” decision in a dispute over pay that it says will leave the base severely debilitated.

Since then, the union say the ABL Alliance refused to meet over what it called an RPI inflation annual pay claim of 3.8%.

Some 90.5% of Unite members at RNAD Coulport voted in support of strike action, and 95.3% supporting action short of a strike.

The ABL Alliance, made up of AWE plc, Babcock Marine (Clyde) Ltd, and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems Ltd, previously state it was “disappointed” at the industrial action vote………………….

The union is concerned that all the companies could afford the pay rise as they were profitable. AWE Plc had an after tax profit of £17.7m in the year to December, 2020, Babcock Marine (Clyde) Ltd turned a £7.3m profit in 2019/20, while Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems Ltd was £41m in the black in 2019.

Babcock have been approached for comment.  https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19716968.industrial-action-tuesday-cripple-clyde-nuclear-base/

November 16, 2021 Posted by | employment, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear workers’ unions want nuclear energy included as clean and sustsainable


European unions press leaders to include nuclear in clean energy mix, Ft.com Jim Pickard in Glasgow, 5 Nov 21,  A dozen union chiefs from across Europe have pressed world leaders to factor in nuclear power as they discuss how to accelerate the path to net zero emissions at the global climate summit in Glasgow………..

…..  The use of nuclear to tackle climate change is fiercely contested, with some countries such as Belgium phasing out their existing power stations. Countries such as Germany, Austria and Luxembourg have opposed a Finnish proposal for the EU “taxonomy” to include nuclear in its definition of sustainable activity……..   Today’s letter was signed by figures including Gary Smith, general secretary of Britain’s GMB union, Helene Lopez, secretary-general of CFE-CGC Energies in France, and Bob Walker, national director of the Canadian Nuclear Workers’ Council – as well as counterparts in Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania……….  https://www.ft.com/content/f01342c5-d1af-4c36-8362-582b48767a05

November 6, 2021 Posted by | employment, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Rolls Royce being urged to do nuclear testing in UK, not in Italy

Rolls-Royce being urged to carry out nuclear testing in UK after it emerged company was considering using site in northern Italy, This Is Money, 

By ALEX LAWSON, FINANCIAL MAIL ON SUNDAY 24 October 2021 Rolls-Royce is being urged to carry out nuclear testing in the UK after it emerged that the company was considering using a site in northern Italy. 

The engineering giant has shortlisted the SIET institute in Piacenza for testing work as part of its plan to build small nuclear reactors. 

Domestic options for the tests include a proposed site on Anglesey, north Wales. 

MPs and unions have spoken out since The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that some of the work could take place in Piacenza. Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect trade union, said: ‘To justify taking these jobs offshore there should be a high bar and proof that there is not sufficient capacity or time to do the work indigenously. 

‘You would hope that it is not just about cost. In the current climate any major UK corporate should be asking questions about what would look like offshoring.’ 

The Conservative MP for Anglesey, Virginia Crosbie – a nuclear advocate known as the ‘Atomic Kitten’ – hopes to persuade the Government to fund a thermal hydraulic testing facility on the island. 

She said: ‘We should absolutely see this work done here. It is clearly in our national interest.’ 

A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: ‘We have committed to source 80 per cent of this project by value in the UK and the priority for this business is to maximise UK content.’ … https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-10123765/Rolls-Royce-urged-carry-nuclear-testing-UK.html

October 25, 2021 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Clyde nuclear base emergency staff to strike from tomorrow over safety fears


Clyde nuclear base emergency staff to strike from tomorrow over safety fears, Herald Scotland, By Martin Williams  @Martin1Williams, Senior News Reporter  18 Oct 21,
 EMERGENCY workers at the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons on the Clyde are set to strike over “major safety concerns” after managers slashed firefighter numbers.

Action has been previously been given the go-ahead following a ballot of workers after managers proceeded with cuts to eight posts from the specialist fire safety crew at HM Naval Base Clyde, a reduction in strength of 15 per cent, with the a union describing it as an “an accident waiting to happen”.

Unite members working for outsourcing services firm Capita Business Services will now start strike action from Tuesday in a dispute over cuts to fire and rescue crew levels, and a lack of consultation………………

Workers believe the cuts impair the abilities of the onsite fire crews to do their jobs properly, particularly, in relation to incidents that would involve wearing breathing apparatus.

Capita has previously stated that they intend to mitigate safety risks due to the cuts through an investment in new technology to reduce fire risk”.

But workers have said they are not aware of any new technology which would address ongoing safety concerns……………………………   https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19655524.clyde-nuclear-base-emergency-staff-strike-tomorrow-safety-fears/

October 19, 2021 Posted by | employment, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Cover-up? Unreported event of Hanford nuclear workers’sickness

Unreported event at Hanford nuclear site that sickened workers ‘smells like a cover-up,’ advocates say,  Workers reported smelling odors, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness and shortness of breath. The contractor denied a chronic problem, toxic vapors, is to blame.  https://www.king5.com/article/news/investigations/hanford-nuclear-site-washington-state-tank-farms-workers-sickened-investigation/281-48a540ea-1fa5-4de9-8ab7-b1dc9db6e5c8  Susannah Frame August 27, 2021

RICHLAND, Wash. — On June 18 of this year, 10 workers at the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington digging in what are known as the “tank farms,” were overcome by strange odors. Nine of the workers sought medical treatment, including three who were transported to the hospital for an overnight stay and were given oxygen.

The KING 5 Investigators have found the event went unreported by the contractor involved – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS).

According to WRPS documents obtained by KING 5, symptoms reported by workers included dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, nausea, a metallic taste in the mouth, stomach issues, light headedness and cough.

Smelling unusual odors, followed by adverse medical conditions are hallmark signs of a chronic problem at the nuclear reservation: exposure to toxic vapors that vent from underground nuclear waste holding tanks.  

WRPS is under a legal obligation to report vapor events on a publicly available website.

“I’m still amazed that not one piece of paper has been put out about this exposure, there’s been no announcement,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the advocacy group Hanford Challenge. “It’s getting to the point where this silence is very suspicious. It’s like: ‘What are you hiding?’”

The contractor said they did not post the event on their website because they’ve determined the worker’s symptoms were not caused by vapors, but “most likely” by a malfunctioning gas-powered wheelbarrow.

“WRPS collected air samples from the small pieces of fuel-powered equipment used in the soil work. One piece of equipment, a small gasoline-powered wheelbarrow that was difficult to start and used during the June 18 event, was smoking when it started and high levels of volatile organic compound emissions were noted,” a WRPS spokesperson said.

Toxic vapor exposures have been a significant problem at Hanford since the 1980s when the operational mission went from producing plutonium, to clean up only.

Several government reports have identified that poisonous vapors, without warning, will vent from underground tanks. Hanford has 177 underground holding tanks that store the deadliest waste at the site.

Tanks in the tank farm near where the workers got ill in June contain contents including plutonium, the radioactive isotopes of americium and strontium 90, mercury, nickel, lead and cyanide.

In 2014 the KING 5 Investigators revealed a record number of vapor exposures in the tank farms. Approximately 56 workers fell ill with symptoms in the rash of exposures. After each incident, WRPS said their testing didn’t show chemicals of concern over regulatory limits. WRPS officials denied chemical vapors were to blame for the events.

That pattern wasn’t new. Expert reports detailed the same cycle happened at Hanford in the 80s and in the 90s: a slew of exposures, followed by denials by the tank farm contractor, and workers left sick and unable to work.

Many workers said they felt betrayed by the contractors over the years for not being honest about the dangers of vapors.

“Until they are in the field and until they smell what we smell and until they feel like we feel and until they get injured like we get injured, they don’t care,” said Mike Cain, a 47-year current Hanford employee who spent 25 of those years in the tank farms. “Everything that we described 30 years ago, 40 years ago, is still there. Yet they keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.”

After the string of exposures in 2014, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Hanford Challenge and Local 598 all filed lawsuits against WRPS and Hanford’s owner, the U.S. Department of Energy. The complaint accused the contractor and federal government of failing to protect workers from vapor exposures, that can cause adverse health effects including lung disease, nervous system damage and cancers of the liver, lung, blood and other organs. The lawsuit also alleged the Department of Energy had been well aware of the dangers for 25 years, yet “Energy did not fix the problem.”

settlement agreement was reached in September 2018. Hanford officials agreed to improve health and safety conditions, install engineering to keep vapors out of the breathing space of workers. They also agreed to provide respiratory protections including supplied (fresh) air that is worn in tanks on the backs of workers, if needed.

In the June event, workers were not using supplied air. According to workers, the contractor had downgraded respiratory protection to respirators with cartridges. Respirators are lighter and more cost effective than supplied air.

“(That) never should have happened if they were wearing fresh air. Never should have happened,” Cain said.

“They’re not protecting workers. They have a long history of not doing so, of putting money and profits before workers health and safety which is ironic because they’re all about saying they want to protect health and safety. They’re not doing it,” Carpenter said.

A WRPS spokesperson said the company did not skimp on safety protocols in the June event.

“Respiratory controls at the TX Farm during the June 18, 2021 event complied with the tank farms vapors settlement agreement requirements… workers were wearing air-purifying respirators consistent with interim mandatory respiratory protections consistent with cartridge testing results,” the spokesperson said.

What is Hanford?

Hanford is the most contaminated worksite in America. Located near Richland in eastern, Wash., workers at the site produced plutonium for the country’s nuclear weapons program for approximately four decades. Plutonium produced at Hanford fueled the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, that led to the end of WWII. Since the late 80s, Hanford has been a clean up site only.

The settlement agreement also makes it mandatory for WRPS to report events on its website that fall into the category of an “AOP-15.” On the WRPS website, an AOP 15 is described as an unidentified odor event: “When a worker reports an unexpected and unidentified odor in the tank farms, and reports medical symptoms potentially related to that smell.”

In the June event, WRPS did not characterize it as an AOP-15, therefore, company executives said they had no obligation to report it.

“Smells like a cover-up”

“This lack of information sharing and reporting smells like a cover-up. We do not want to see a return to downgraded worker protections that result in routine vapor exposures. The cycle of exposures must end at Hanford, and meaningful and long-lasting regulations should be enacted to assure that Hanford tank farm workers can conduct a cleanup without risking their own health and safety,” said Carpenter of Hanford Challenge in a press statement sent on Friday.

On Thursday, a WRPS executive told KING 5 that the company’s definition of an AOP-15 had changed in 2020. In an email to employees on Dec. 1, 2020, WRPS Executive Jeremy Hartley said that moving forward, an AOP-15 will occur when personal ammonia monitors worn by workers set off an alarm.

“Ammonia has been verified as a sentinel indicator of changing levels of other chemicals of potential concern. The procedure changes clarify and reinforce a disciplined conduct of operations by recognizing the administrative and engineering controls in place, relying on the ammonia monitors and verifying the conditions when an alarm set point is reached,” Hartley wrote.

Given this change, the WRPS spokesperson said they followed protocol by not reporting the event on the website.

As this event did not involve an ammonia alarm, it is not classified as an AOP-15,” the spokesperson said.

Government scientists have concluded that ammonia does not have to be present for other chemicals of concern to release in concentrations that could harm human health. In 2004 the Department of Energy released a Hanford report concluding the potentially harmful gas, nitrous oxide, can be present without the presence of ammonia.

“Based on…characterization data (the contractor) CH2M HILL has incorrectly assumed that nitrous oxides are present only when ammonia is present,” report authors wrote. “…nitrous oxide vapors in tank headspaces can be present in (dangerous) concentrations, even in the absence of ammonia.”

Stakeholders such as Hanford Challenge and union safety representatives said they were unaware that WRPS had changed its AOP-15 definition.

A WRPS communications specialist said they are committed to the safety of workers.

“The health and safety of the workforce is always paramount,” the company official said.8

August 30, 2021 Posted by | employment, health, legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The importance of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and of coming to terms with USA’s nuclear history.

When Nuclear Fallout Comes Home.   Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM03) spoke on the importance of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and coming to terms with our nuclear history.   https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/when-nuclear-fallout-comes-home-191720by Harry Tarpey      Whether in New Mexico, Guam, or the Marshall Islands, the consequences of uranium mining, atmospheric testing, and nuclear weapons manufacturing continue to impact communities around the world, with little awareness from the international community.

I know people who have been impacted by uranium mining, and by the fallout and nuclear testing, so this is not abstract,” said Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández of New Mexico’s 3rd District, who recently sat down for an interview with Press the Button. “These are people I know, these are families I know—you can’t ignore it.”

Leger Fernández is a leading advocate in Congress for the extension and expansion of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), reforms that would establish a more robust and easier to navigate compensation program for the victims of nuclear radiation in the United States and its territories.

RECA is a federal statute established in 1990 as a mechanism to compensate individuals whose health or livelihood was affected by unintended radiation exposure due to our nuclear weapons complex. To date, it has compensated over $2.2 billion to tens of thousands of claimants suffering from health ailments caused by exposure to radiation.

 These include atomic veterans, downwinders, and individuals working on atmospheric nuclear tests and in uranium mines.

Though many of these recipients have undoubtedly benefited from the program, Leger Fernández and her colleagues are recommending several improvements to the statute to expand its impact.

One such change she is championing is an increase in the amount of compensation provided per individual grant. “Right now, [RECA payments] are $50,000. That’s not sufficient, so we’re going to raise it to $150,000.” The legislation she will be co-sponsoring, if passed, would expand the limited scope of eligibility that RECA currently maintains to include geographic areas and age groups not currently covered by the statute.

When RECA was first designed, “it had a very limited area where, if you happen to be exposed in these certain counties, you got compensation. But we know that it’s not just a few counties that were impacted,” argues Leger Fernández, “we need to make sure they are all entitled to the compensation.”

Although this expansion would no doubt have a positive impact within her district, Leger Fernández views it as an issue that resonates well beyond her constituency: “I want to take on this fight because this impacts not just New Mexicans, but people elsewhere, who were exposed to radiation from testing, from the development of the weapons, through no fault of their own are

now suffering the consequences. We as a government who inflicted this harm cannot stand back and say ‘too bad’—we must act.”

With RECA set to either expire or be reauthorized in July 2022, Leger Fernández views the year ahead as an important opportunity to reassess and refine RECA to ensure its continued effectiveness. “We need to take this moment and re-authorize the act,” she told guest host Lily Adams, “but also, when we look at it, ask ‘where is [RECA] efficient, and what do we need to do to make it better?”

August 16, 2021 Posted by | employment, health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The need for integrity in epidemiological research: investigation of uranium miners’health to be carried out by pro nuclear bodies

They want to show that it doesn’t cause cancer. I think they want to find that result.”

for years, the CNSC has served both as a regulator and promoter of the nuclear industry

“It is concerning that health standards are set by physicists and industries, based on financial and technological convenience, rather than by those educated in and committed to public health and safety.”


Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to Investigate Lung Cancer Rates Among Uranium Workers,
Mother Jones

What’s happened to 80,000 people who have worked in Canada’s mines and processing facilities?CHARLES MANDEL, 25 July 21, The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is leading a national study examining incidences of lung cancer in uranium workers from across the country.

The Canadian Uranium Workers Study (CANUWS) will examine health data from 80,000 past and present employees at Canada’s uranium mines, mills and processing and fabrication facilities. The study, which is now underway and set to end in 2023, is the largest examination of lung cancer in Canadian uranium workers to date.

Rachel Lane, one of the lead researchers on the new study, told Canada’s National Observer she believes it will reassure workers they face less risk than before from lung cancer arising from exposure to radon, ……..

The $800-million mining and milling uranium industry employs over 2,000 people—of whom more than half are residents of northern Saskatchewan—at mine sites. The researchers plan to examine causes of death in uranium workers from 1950 on and chart their cancer data from 1970 onwards, using research from previous studies.

The new study will build on the results of two historical studies: the Eldorado study and the Ontario Uranium Mine Workers Study, both of which found elevated risks of lung cancer in uranium workers. During numerous follow-ups ending in 2015, both studies found lung cancer among miners was still more prevalent than in the general population………….

deaths from lung cancer associated with radiation were historically higher for uranium workers than the general male population……….

In 2015, a follow-up to the 2007 Ontario Uranium Miner Cohort study was done. It examined approximately 28,546 male and 413 female uranium miners who had worked at least one week in the Elliot Lake and Bancroft regions or at the Agnew Lake Mine between 1954 and 1996.

The conclusion: “Significant elevations in lung cancer mortality and incidence, as well as silicosis and injury mortality were observed in comparison with the general Canadian population.”……….

Anne Leis, the department head of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, will administer the project and analyze the data. Her colleague, Punam Pahwa, a professor of biostatistics, will lead the statistical analysis of the health data……….

Uranium mining companies Cameco, Orano, and BWXT are co-funding the study, contributing $60,000. The CNSC is providing $125,000, while the Saskatchewan government is kicking in $60,000, and the University of Saskatchewan is contributing $90,000 of in-kind funding.………… 

Concerns Over Possible Bias

While former employees and industry watchers applaud efforts to study the health of uranium workers, some are skeptical about the ability of CNSC to produce an unbiased report.

Jamie Kneen, communications and outreach coordinator at Mining Watch Canada, says it’s important to understand the longer-term impacts of radon on the miners. But he cautions that the peer review and oversight of the study must be carefully examined because it is being led by CNSC.Kneen contends that for years, the CNSC has served both as a regulator and promoter of the nuclear industry. “Their tendency has been to extend license periods and to give operators, whether it’s in the uranium industry or the nuclear power industry, more space, more time in terms of licensing and more leeway rather than the kind of tight supervision and oversight that the public probably would expect.”

Therefore, it’s a question of scrutinizing who’s doing the work and reviewing the study to ensure that it really is independent, according to Kneen. He notes that’s a difficult task given that the methodology around radiation is intricate and that not many people can decipher the technical details.

“So there’s a lot of potential for not necessarily deliberate manipulation, but for error to creep in and biases to creep in.”

Rod Gardiner, a former general foreman at the now-defunct Cluff Lake Mine in Saskatchewan, expresses his own concerns about the industry. Gardiner was at the mine for 33 years, working his way up to general foreman and acting mine manager.

He alleges management at Cluff Lake, which was owned by the multinational mining corporation Orano Group, consistently boasted that working in the mine was as safe as working in a supermarket and putting prices on soup cans. “That’s what they used to say, the company.”

He hopes a new study might answer questions about workers’ health. But others aren’t sure whether results will be trustworthy, primarily because the CNSC is partially funding and leading the study.

The CNSC’s work has been subject to just those kinds of complaints in the past.

Writing in the journal Canadian Family Physician in 2013, Dale Dewar and two other authors expressed concern over the CNSC’s ability to act independently of government and industry. The authors noted the former Conservative federal government fired the commission’s CEO when she applied safety guidelines to shut down the Chalk River reactor in Ontario.

The authors observed: “It is concerning that health standards are set by physicists and industries, based on financial and technological convenience, rather than by those educated in and committed to public health and safety.”

Dewar, a longtime general physician in northern Saskatchewan, recently told Canada’s National Observer: “They want to show that it doesn’t cause cancer. I think they want to find that result.”

Dewar expressed surprise that the CNSC has opted for a focused study when northerners have been asking for decades for a baseline health study to determine such things as whether or not there have been increases in autoimmune diseases or cancers that couldn’t be explained by diet, for example.

“I think not only is it virtually a sin that they’ve never done this, but I think it’s a really huge missed opportunity because if they had a study done like this, they would have researchers around the world trying to get information out of it.”…………

Compensation for Uranium Workers

Another, less discussed issue is compensation for uranium miners. In the United States, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) administered by the Department of Justice has awarded over US$2.4 billion in benefits to more than 37,000 claimants since its introduction in 1990. https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2021/07/canadian-nuclear-safety-commission-to-investigate-lung-cancer-rates-among-uranium-workers/

July 26, 2021 Posted by | Canada, employment, health, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Most Hanford nuclear site workers report exposure to toxic or radioactive chemicals


57% of Hanford nuclear site workers surveyed by WA state report toxic exposures,
Tri City Herald

BY ANNETTE CARY, JULY 07, 2021 

 More than half of Hanford site workers responding to a Washington state survey said they had been involved in an incident at the Hanford nuclear reservation that resulted in exposure to radioactive or toxic chemicals.

Some 57% of about 1,600 past and present workers who took the survey reported being in an exposure incident, which could include the release of radioactive material into the air.

And nearly a third, 32%, reported they had long-term exposure to hazardous materials at the nuclear reservation, rather than exposure during a single incident………

Workers are cleaning up and treating radioactive and hazardous chemical waste left from the past production at Hanford of two-thirds of the nation’s plutonium for its nuclear weapons program……….

For incurable diseases, such as chronic beryllium disease caused by breathing in fine particles of the metal beryllium, information sharing could be key to finding cures, the board said.

SICK HANFORD WORKER ISSUES

It also recommended expanding Tri-Cities access to care that is tailored to Hanford workers’ health needs.

Some workers reported they did not receive a diagnosis until they visited clinics outside the Tri-Cities area and sometimes outside the state.

After an initial assessment or diagnosis related to Hanford exposures there was not long-term coordination of care, said workers in survey comments.

Part of the difficulty was that some health problems, such as cancers, are not diagnosed until years after exposures, the report said……………https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article252613523.html

July 26, 2021 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

Greenpeace Rainbow Warrier aims to help workers to transition to renewable energy work

The Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior III ship is in Aberdeen Harbour as part of its Just Transition Tour. The campaign calls on government to train oil and gas workers for a smooth transition to renewable energy schemes. The 190-ft vessel will moor overnight in Aberdeen before heading for Wick with sights set on the 84-turbine Beatrice offshore windfarm sitting lying nine miles off the Caithness coast. The intrepid crew are keen to assess “the challenges and opportunities” facing the platforms’ workers.

Greenpeace UK’s oil campaign leader Mel Evans, head said offshore workers had their full support. He added: They have powered our economy through difficult times and they have plenty of transferable skills which will be vital to our transition to renewable energy. “Politicians must sit down with offshore workers and take urgent action to make the funds, retraining opportunities and jobs available to make Scotland’s clean energy transition a success.”

 Evening Express 18th July 2021

July 20, 2021 Posted by | employment, renewable, UK | Leave a comment