WASHINGTON (WVLT) — Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is once again crossing the aisle and teaming up with Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) to introduce their bipartisan plan to create an advisory panel designed to help Cold War workers from Oak Ridge and other nuclear weapons facilities get the treatment they need for cancer and other illnesses.
"Many Americans labored behind the scenes working with little-understood hazardous materials to build our nation's nuclear deterrent, and Tennessee has had more people – more than 14,000 – file claims for compensation than any other state," Alexander said.
According to their plan, new board would oversee the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which they said had been plagued by procedural inconsistencies and delays that prevented workers from getting the benefits they were owed.
Alexander's office said over a half-million workers were unknowingly exposed to radioactive and toxic substances at atomic weapons program facilities. Now, thousands of them are battling debilitating and, sometimes, terminal diseases.
Many of them have seen benefit claims delayed for years, according to Alexander.
Congressmen Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) have introduced a companion in the U.S. House of Representatives.