Inclusion in compensation bill possible for test site workers

The following article from the "Reno Gazette-Journal", March 2, 2000, was sent to us by Connie Pardew from Reno, NV.

   LAS VEGAS -- It would be "unconscionable" to ignore the historical role of Nevada Test Site employees when considering a bill to compensate workers exposed to radiation while handling nuclear weapons material.
   Sens. Harry Reid and Richard Bryan are making that pitch to colleagues and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson as Congress considers compensating workers in Kentucky and Tennessee who were exposed to beryllium.
   Reid and Bryan, both D-Nev., say they will lobby to have the Nevada workers included in the pending bill or offer an amendment to the measure.
   Reid said he will state Nevada's case in a meeting Thursday with Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.
   Reid said he believes Richardson will be amenable to including the Nevada workers.
   Bryan said it would be "unconscionable and the height of hypocrisy for the federal government to now turn its back on the thousands of Nevadans who helped us win the Cold War."
   Workers at the remote site 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas spent nearly half a century involved in the testing of nuclear weapons.
   "This legacy, unfortunately, also resulted in many health-related illnesses and deaths," Bryan said. "It is now time for the federal government to stand up to its responsibilities and compensate those workers who, in many cases, sacrificed their health in the nationís defense."
   Reid and Bryan want to include the Nevadans in a bill calling for compensation for workers at DOE facilities in Paducah, Ky. and Oak Ridge, Tenn. who suffered health problems from handling beryllium.
   The Nevada senators say if the bill is not changed to include Nevada workers, They will introduce an amendment to ensure the inclusion.
   Some 200 former test site workers turned out Friday at an Energy Department hearing, with dozens listing a litany of health problems they blame on work at the site while nuclear weapons were tested there between 1951 and 1992.
   Bryan praised Richardson for "the courage to break the shameless code of silence that has been a trademark of the Department of Energy in years past regarding the health affects suffered as a result of nuclear weapons production and testing programs."

Source: Associated Press
From "Reno Gazette-Journal", March 02, 2000

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