WASHINGTON (AP) — A House-Senate committee has agreed that nuclear weapons workers who worked at the country's uranium enrichment plants in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee and have suffered from kidney cancer should be compensated.
Kidney cancer was inadvertently left off a list of diseases that automatically qualify sick workers at those sites as well as workers on Alaska's Amchitka Island for compensation under a new government program.
Congress passed a bill last year that specified the government should presume that particular kinds of cancer were work-related at those sites, which did a poor job of maintaining records.
Kidney cancer is linked to uranium exposure and should have been on the list, said Richard Miller, who followed the bill's progress for the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers union.
``It was a technical error in drafting in the legislation," Miller said.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., included a provision in a supplemental spending bill that added kidney cancer to that list. The House-Senate committee charged with ironing out differences on the spending legislation approved the McConnell measure Thursday.
``Frankly that's about as fast as you can turn around and solve a problem legislatively," Miller said.
The issue was brought to McConnell's attention by Charles Cornwell of Metropolis, Ill. He has suffered from kidney cancer and is a longtime employee of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
The Supplemental Appropriations conference report is expected to be approved soon by the House and Senate and then ultimately get President Bush's signature.
compensation program is slated to begin on July 31. It provides for $150,000
and lifetime medical care to Cold War-era workers exposed to health-robbing
levels of radiation, silica or beryllium.