GRAND JUNCTION -- The widow of a uranium miner has received $100,000 in government compensation for the illness that killed her husband 4 1/2 years ago.
Barbara Grandbouche got notice Thursday the U.S. Justice Department had deposited the money into her account.
"It makes me sad because I think of what George had to go through," she said. "But I'm glad to have it. I may take a bottle of champagne down to the cemetery and have a drink with him."
George Grandbouche died in March 1996, two months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer connected to his years as a mining engineer and geologist working in the uranium mines of the Colorado Plateau.
He qualified for a program created in 1990 to compensate ailing uranium miners and people exposed to radiation from Cold War-era nuclear weapons tests. But he was among some 500 miners, widows and survivors across the West who received IOUs instead of money last year when the fund ran out of money.
President Bush signed emergency legislation in July that pumped money into the fund.
"We have people working overtime it was authorized to get the forms over to Treasury and Treasury made it a priority to get us the funds," said Charles Miller of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. "My understanding is that if a claimant asked for a direct deposit, the money would be out the same day, a check in a day or so."
Justice Department officials didn't have an immediate count of the number of checks sent out because they were busy sending the authorizations, he said.
"I'm hoping everybody else is starting to get theirs, too," Grandbouche said.
Robert Key of Fruita died in July, just weeks away from getting his $100,000. He had talked to national media outlets about his years mining and how miners were insulted by receiving the IOUs.
The Bush administration wants to delay compensation for some in the program, saying more study is needed to determine whether exposure to uranium and silica dust in the mines caused the illnesses.
Some members of Congress have said they will fight efforts to postpone the payments.
September 1, 2001