Secretary of Labor
Dear Elaine L Chao,
am Vina K. Colley, a resident of McDermott, Ohio and former electrician
at the Portsmouth/Piketon Gaseous Diffusion Plant, still active on the
plant's recall list.
want to take this opportunity to inform you on developments in my
situation and case against the plant. I feel unfortunate events that I
have endured are about to occur to many other sick workers entering the
compensation program developed by DOD/DOE and our Representatives.
is clear evidence in my case that I have been done wrong by the
plant's management and cheated out of all the following: my job, my
benefits, my pension, and more importantly my health. Secretary OLeary,
while in office, met with me and instructed her staff to take care of my
problems/issues, which as of today still remained unresolved. Therefore,
I am asking you to pick up where Secretary OLeary left off. Please order
the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion plant contractor, the union, and your staff
personnel to resolve my case. Show me that this new office really cares
about the wrong it has done.
Sept of 1999, the workers at Piketon and other nuclear sites were told
that our government put us in harm's way. It is clear in my records that I
have been exposed to radioactive material and toxic chemicals and have
gone through many medical testing and treatments, proving my exposure. For
compensation, I ask to be restated back to June 19, 1987. Justification
for this date is included below.
following is a summary of what I and other workers have all ready
experienced with the workers compensation system and unfortunately will be
repeated by workers filing new claims. Unless the rules for workers'
compensation are changed, workers will not receive help and their claims
will be denied and dismissed.
the health problems resulting from the DOE plants under Oak Ridge
Operations become more apparent and known by the public, a in-depth look
needs to be taken at the proposal for aiding those whose health has been
damaged by these and other DOE operations. This is occurring not only in
Ohio, but also in other states as well.
I am more than $75,000.00 in debt from fighting a system that
is so corrupt. I have been able to aid in breaking every major story
about the Portsmouth plant, including the UNDILUTED Plutonium that was shipped
to the site.
background, my own Workers Compensation was awarded for Chemical &
Radiation exposure, on March 6, 1983. The award was for Fume/Vapor AC
Pulmonary Edema, Fume/Vapor Respiratory Disease, Intrathoracic Injury
whole body, and Depressive Disorder, Neck and face splash with contusion of the
eyes from a splash on the face. All these conditions were contracted
while working with trichlorethylene, PCB, and other hazardous chemicals. These
hazardous chemicals were contaminated with uranium and other daughter
products. In addition, the company was aware of this contamination, while
they withheld this information from plant workers.
documented problems since the exposure have included three tumors
removed from my stomach in 1987, a total hysterectomy, and a tumor removed
from the back of my head in 1998. Chemical Bronchitis, shortness of
breath, thyroid problems, rashes, loss of hair, irritable bowels,
allergies, stomach problems, chemical depression, gastro-intestinal upset,
memory loss, osteoarthritis, fibromyalia, No immune system and organic
brain syndrome secondary to TCE. I should note that the company gives us
all pre-hire physicals, and only hires healthy workers.
has been a joint effort by the DOE, its contractors, Attorneys Vorys,
Sater & Pease in Columbus, Ohio, the Medical staff at the plant, and the
Ohio Industrial Bureau Workers Compensation office to cover up the claims.
Portsmouth workers are referred to doctors who deny claims, specialize in
practices that differ from our symptoms, and who are getting paid without
examining us properly. In talking with other workers, this has happened
at other sites as well. My personal records have been falsified. Plant
representatives told doctors that a one-time splash caused all my
also informed doctors that I had a disease I never even heard of. I
have been ordered to take many tests, including X-rays that I even get
sick from taking. Ironically, I received no chemical testing from any of the
doctors they sent me to. Many times no test where even ran. One common
practice was to be sent to doctors the plant representatives knew would
turn us down. One example of this is that of Doctor Herbert Grodner in
Columbus. Court records reveled that he was paid $325 for a 15-minute
evaluation of worker's claims. I was one of many sent to Dr Grodner and
denied. It doesn't take much to realize that if Dr Gordner reviews 100
patients in less than a week, he would make $32,500. If Dr Gordner, or
others referred by the plant's official, approved the worker's claim then
a steady stream of quick and easy income would be diverted elsewhere.
Also, how can any physician make such an important decision in such a short
length of time?
example of the apparent covering up of legitimate claims; I was on
approved medical leave, which means that my employer paid the difference
of what workers comp didn't cover. I was sent to Dr. George Esham, in June
of 1987, who was told to check me out but not to run any test because workers
comp would not pay for the test. He said my stomach was somewhat fatty,
but he could see no reason why I couldn't return to work. From this
report, I was taken off workers compensation. As a result of this check up, I was
immediately placed on layoff status and I was still sick. Because of his
report I lost all of my benefits and seniority. In August of 1987, Dr.
Yong D. Song called me at home and stated that due to the enlargement of
my stomach since my last ultra sound and due to my chemical involvement from
the plant, he felt we should do an emergency surgery. I could have died
or even had more problems if I had listen to the doctors that the plant or
the state sent me to. The Industrial Commission ordered worker compensation to
refer me to a toxicologist. When I arrived at Dr. Michael Kelly of
Columbus, Ohio (a toxicologist), he was told to check me for depression.
That obviously is not his area of expertise. However, he did think I was
depressed. Dr. Greer, of the Industrial Commission, said that I had a
pre-existing depression problem. He developed this position with
one-time, twenty-minute office visit. My personal doctor. Dr. Jack Border wrote to
the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and stated: "Vina has been seen in my
office and treated for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and adjustment
disorder with depression." Dr. Border had previously written several
letters regarding this topic to worker's compensation. He also stated
that after careful review of my chart he could see that my psychiatric problems
began after the date of my reported toxic exposure. Dr. Border is still
my personal doctor.
last month, the worker compensation stop paying for my medication,
except for two prescriptions. In addition, they continue to give no
credibility to my personal doctor's finding. Keep in mind that my
personal physician did perform several batteries of tests and did arrive at their
own diagnosis. My doctors and some of my medicine are still being paid my
1995, in a hearing by the Industrial Commission, I was called by the
hearing officers a "leader of a citizen anti- nuclear energy group and was
proven to show great leadership." However, the Industrial Commission
Hearing Officers still did not seem to care that my physical health was
deteriorating due to my exposure.
May 31, 1989, an arbitration hearing for two other ladies and myself
was held at the Piketon plant. Dr. Dean, from the Piketon's plant stated
"Mrs. Colley's case presents the classic case of an individual who should never
work at all in an industrial plant. Unlike most people, Mrs. Colley has
an extreme hypersensitivity to smoke, dust, chemical fumes and orders of all
kind." Dr. Dean's opinion is that my condition is of permanent nature.
If this is the case, then why did they take me off worker's compensation in
1987? I believe that the company and Dr. Easham committed fraud to the
Bureau of Workers Compensation by stating that I was able to return to
work in 1987. Once I was denied worker's compensation, I signed up for Social
Security and total disability, which I received. My question to you is
this; How could this facility get by with saying in arbitration that I was
unable to work, but yet in a Worker's Compensation hearing, they stated
that I was able to work. They are contradicting themselves by not paying
my claim, and yet are still preventing me from returning to work.
example of a worker being sent to the wrong specialist is that of
Mr. Owen Thompson. He was sent to a plastic surgeon to evaluated be for a
brain tumor. Owen is now dead.
the case of late Mr. Vern Web, his wife received $500 dollars, after his
death, from Workers Compensation. She was unable to prove that he had
died from chemical exposure. Years later, I discovered documentation stating
that Vern had over 3,000 counts of contamination on his body. Also stated
in the paper was his account of being told by plant personnel to go back
to work or go home.
are but a few of the examples of the failure of the workers'
compensation system, and this system varies greatly from state to state.
Whatever program is initiated, it must protect any social security and
retirement benefits we have spent our entire working careers to accumulate.
These benefits must not be taken from us.
there are DOE records, which document Beryllium at Piketon, yet no
present or former workers have been tested for Beryllium sensitivity.
Every DOE site, which has used Beryllium, and done specific testing, has
found disease and sensitization. Plutonium, Neptunium, Fluorides, Nickel
and many other dangerous chemicals are also issues to be dealt with by your
office. All of these materials have a long latency period between
exposure and health problems. This is a situation not usually dealt with by state
Workers' Compensation system: more used to dealing with injuries, and
recovery, not continuing deterioration of health. A national system,
drawing on the experience of all sites, and input from the affected
workers would seem to be a more workable solution.
have been informed by a worker's compensation that if the current laws
are not changed workers' and widow's claims will continue to be denied.
My question to you is the Department of Labor going to ensure the workers have
a fair system in place to process their claims? Otherwise, as I stated,
the claims will be denied due to lack of chemical exposure proof on the
look forward to working together with you in resolving these important
issues. Worker's lives have been severely impacted from exposure received
while working at Piketon and other DOE facilities. At a minimum, they
should be properly compensated.
3706 McDermott Pond Creek
McDermott, Ohio 45652
President George Bush
Cc. Martin Marietta
Cc Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham
Cc. Department of Justice
Cc. Congressman Ted Strickland
Cc. Senator George Voinovich
Cc. Senator Michael DeWine
Cc. PACE union
Cc. Senator Thompson
Cc. Media Nancy Zuckerbrod
Cc. Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
Cc. Downwindeers list
Cc. Military Toxic Project
Cc. Che -list
Cc. workers Compensation
Cc. Robert Muehlesen