Approximately 460 people to date have undergone initial screenings for lung cancer in a mobile detection unit during its five visits to Oak Ridge since December 2000.
The mobile unit is part of the Worker Health Protection Program -- a $7 million medical screening and education program funded by the Department of Energy and conducted by the Paper, Allied-industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union and Queens College in New York.
The 40-foot mobile unit is equipped with a low-dose, computerized axial tomography (CT) scanner. PACE officials said it can more effectively detect lung cancer than a chest X-ray and at an earlier stage, when the disease is more easily treatable.
Screenings are offered to current and former gaseous diffusion plant employees who are concerned about their health because of significant prior exposures to any of the following hazards: Asbestos, beryllium, uranium, radiation, nickel and chlorinated solvents, among others.
Amy Manowitz, coordinator for the Early Lung Cancer Detection Program at Queens College, said 124 people had initial screenings in Oak Ridge between Dec. 12-21, 2000.
As for the other four visits, 142 were checked between Feb. 6-14; 120, March 20-28; 71, May 7-15; and 3, June 18-21.
The numbers for Oak Ridge are on target with exams conducted at two other sites.
Between November 2000 and this June, the mobile unit made six visits each to sites in Paducah, Ky., and Portsmouth, Ohio, conducting a total of 462 and 433 initial screenings respectively, according to Manowitz.
Depending on the results of the initial screenings, some people were called back for more intensive exams.
Manowitz said the mobile unit will return to Oak Ridge on July 31 and stay until Aug. 4.
For more information or to participate in the lung screening, call the local PACE office at 481-3394 or 481-3395 or the early lung cancer detection program at 1-888-241-1199. The Oak Ridge PACE union hall is at 133 Raleigh Road.
However, there are some non state and EPA negotiated cleanup projects that are fully funded including BNFL Inc.'s three-building K-25 cleanup project, DOE's transuranic waste program and operations at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, which is currently under construction..
Some of the economic impacts to surrounding communities would include: Layoffs of workers (average salary over $56,000); loss of purchases made locally (Total DOE non-payroll expenditures in 2000 totaled $560 million); loss of local sales tax revenue; and closure of small businesses or satellite offices dependent on DOE environmental contracts.
In addition, the state's environmental oversight grant will be seriously cut under this funding scenario. That's bad news for the LOC, which is funded through the grant.
DOE Oak Ridge Operations office is proposing to give the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation $1.8 million, compared to its request of $4..7 million for FY 2002. Gawarecki said TDEC has informed her that it cannot support the LOC if this is the case. Gawarecki said the LOC will run out of money and close as of Oct. 1 unless something changes. LOC's grant request for FY 2002 is approximately $200,000.
So, where does hope lie for improvements in the cleanup budget?
"We've been told that the only hope is if the Senate puts the money back in," Gawarecki said.
A Senate appropriations subcommittee is scheduled to look at its version of the funding bill on July 9. If and when the full Senate approves the bill, then the details of the bill will be hammered out during a conference committee of House and Senate members.
If not this year, Gawarecki said she's been told that cleanup funding could increase in FY 2003. But, that's not as good as it sounds.
can't easily shut the projects down and expect someone to come in cold
and restart this," she said.