materials, uranium production, and weapons assembly and disassembly (DOL, 2010a; GAO, 2010).
During the Cold War, research indicated that workers in the atomic weapons production process may have long-term health effects as a result of their employments. In the early years, some workers may not have been aware of potential health risks related to their jobs, nor did they necessarily know the identity of the materials with which they worked. Workers were often exposed to both radioactive and nonradioactive toxic substances.1 In many instances, the work was considered top secret and workers were cautioned not to reveal any work-related information to family members or others. As these workers experienced adverse health effects, they began to express their concerns that many of their illnesses resulted from their exposures to occupational hazards during their work at DOE facilities (DOL, 2010a; GAO, 2010). In 2000, in response to growing health concerns among former DOE workers, Congress passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (Public Law 106-398, Title XXXVI), referred to as EEOICPA.
In 1996, following congressional directives, DOE established the Former Worker Medical Screening Program (FWP) to provide medical screening for and health monitoring of former DOE workers (FY 1993 Defense Authorization Act [Public Law 102-484]). The program was to assist workers with determining whether they had health issues related to their prior work with DOE. The program included both site- and population-specific medical screenings (DOE, 2012).
The FWP and former workers also garnered support for a federal compensation program to address the workers’ growing treatment costs and disability resulting from their employment. The DOE assistant secretary for environment, safety and health, along with local leaders and often Congressional representatives, heard testimony from former workers or their survivors about their work and the illnesses that had subsequently befallen many of them or their coworkers. These workers, many of whom had previously been reluctant to share their experiences and illnesses with anyone, motivated Congress in 2000 to pass EEOICPA to provide compensation and medical coverage to former DOE employees, contractors, and subcontractors (Executive Order 13179—Providing Compensation to America’s Nuclear Weapons Workers) (DOE, 2011). EEOICPA established two worker compensation programs: Part B and Part D. Part B compensates
1 The committee uses the term toxic substance to refer to any hazardous agent, including chemicals and biologics, that has the potential to cause adverse health effects in an organism. In this report, the terms toxic substance and hazardous agent are used interchangeably, as are the terms illness, disease, and health effects as is done in the Haz-Map and SEM databases.