The Bush Assministration has been pushing nuclear power since Day One but they have no interest in helping its victims.
The Bush administration repeatedly sought ways to limit payouts to nuclear weapons workers sickened by radiation and toxic material, according to a memo written by congressional investigators and obtained by USA TODAY.
The investigation focuses on a federal program created in 2000 to compensate people with cancers and other illnesses tied to their work at government and contractor-owned facilities involved in Cold War nuclear weapons production. About 98,000 cases have been filed under the program, and the Labor Department has approved compensation in about 24,000 of those cases. However, program records show that not all of those approved claims have been paid.
Since 2002, “there is a continuous stream of (administration) communications … strategizing on minimizing payouts,” according to the Nov. 30 memo by staff for the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, border security and claims. The memo, prepared for the panel’s chairman, Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., summarizes and quotes from thousands of pages of records reviewed by the subcommittee in its probe.
In a memo from October 2005, program director Hallmark complains to White House officials that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which reviews some claims, is adopting “extreme exaggerations of (worker exposure) on the grounds that every decision point must be as ‘claimant favorable’ as conceivably possible.” The documents also show officials debating ways to change the balance of a program oversight panel by adding members skeptical of workers’ claims.
“You’ve got bureaucrats pressuring the scientists and when they can’t get what they want, they try to squeeze the (adjudication) process wherever they can,” says Richard Miller, a claimants’ advocate with the Government Accountability Project. “These workers are dying with every day that goes by.”