Sens. Cantwell, Murray Secure Protections for Hanford Workers in National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray (D-WA), secured the reauthorization of the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The NDAA passed 89-8.
The Advisory Board is instrumental in helping improve the federal compensation process for Hanford workers to gain the health care and benefits they have earned through their service during World War II, the Cold War, and the subsequent cleanup mission. Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) provides current and former workers’ compensation and medical payments when exposure to toxic substances aggravated, contributed to, or caused the injury or illness.
“This program is critically important to current and former Hanford employees who operate in extremely hazardous conditions. These individuals handle the most dangerous radioactive and chemical materials, putting them at serious risk of injury and illness,” said Sen. Cantwell. “The amendment that Senator Murray and I were able to include will ensure we keep our commitment to protect and support all of the nation's workers employed in the nuclear weapons industry.”
“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect the men and women who work at Hanford, but there’s no escaping the fact that at the end of the day, the nuclear waste cleanup is dangerous work,” said Sen. Murray. “That’s why it’s so critical to make sure we have a strong, reliable program in place to help any worker—past or present— get the care and benefits they earned on the job.”
Congress originally established the Advisory Board in 2014 to assist the U.S. Department of Labor with Part E of the EEOICPA for current and former workers at Hanford and across the nation. The amendment would extend the Advisory Board’s authorities by five years.
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