Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Labor Dept Pays More Than $500M To Ill Uranium Plant Workers

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Current and former employees of the Kentucky-based Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant have received more than $500 million in compensation and medical benefits from the U.S. Labor Department.

The Energy Department plant produced more than 1 million tons of uranium during the plant's Cold War history. Exposure to radiation, silica and beryllium led to cancer diagnoses, along with beryllium diseases and silicosis.

Federal legislation created to assist workers who were sickened as a result of working in the atomic weapons industry provided 4,798 of those eligible with financial assistance. Survivors of those who became ill may also be eligible for benefits.

"Employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant sacrificed their health to help the nation build its nuclear defense program," said Rachel Leiton, director of the Energy Department's occupational illness compensation division.

"We hope that this aid has assisted in easing the hardships experienced by this community," Leiton said in a statement.

-By Darrell A. Hughes, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6684;

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