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Sickened, and Fighting Another Cold War

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The New York Times has taken up the issue of sick-and-dying nuclear-weapons plant workers being denied  assistance promised by the government. This is the very same issue that was covered so powerfully by Mike Kessler in our November issue.

From the Times:

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Russell Earley, 83, operated a crane at Bethlehem Steel from 1941 to 1983, when he had surgery for colon cancer. In 2006 doctors told him he had a suspicious spot on each lung. His compensation claim has been denied twice.

“They took 24 inches of intestines, sewed my rectum up and hung a colostomy bag on me,” he said. “And when they denied me, they said, ‘Sickness not bad enough.’ Can you imagine?”

Fortunately, the workers’ cause seems to have been noticed in some powerful circles.

Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton have complained about the way the Department of Labor has operated the program, which is known formally as the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

“It’s appalling and inhumane,” Mr. Schumer said in a telephone interview. Last year, he asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the department and report by next spring on its handling of the program.

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“I have confidence that the report will bring to light the almost pernicious activities of the department,” Mr. Schumer said. “Then we’ll see if the department can change on its own. If not, we’ll have to take action.”

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