Newsday reports today that Brookhaven National Lab workers with cancer who were exposed to radiation at BNL during the Cold War will finally be able to receive the federal workers’ compensation benefits that Congress intended when it set up a special compensation program for these workers in 2000.
The facts surrounding the Brookhaven exposures are eerily similar to the case our office won at trial regarding our clients who were exposed to radiation, TCE and PCE at the old Sylvania Nuclear Fuel Rod plant in Hicksville, New York. The current owner of the property, Verizon, is now fighting off multiple individual and class action lawsuits for cancer and other illnesses arising from the Hicksville nuclear site .
Prior to today’s announcement, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act had been a dismal failure for former Brookhaven National Lab employees. In a decade, only 17 of 123 cancer cases had been approved due to the difficulty in establishing "dose exposure". The new "special class" of BNL Cold War workers will make it dramatically easier for those with radiation induced cancers to collect a lump-sum benefit of $150,000 and medical care.
I suppose "better late than never" is the best that can said for the federal government’s shoddy treatment of the Brookhaven National Lab workers.