DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds and potentially thousands of people who believe their cancer stems from working at the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility may finally get the help they’ve been fighting for.
A ruling late Wednesday by a presidential advisory board means they now qualify for compensation and money to pay their medical bills.
They could get $150,000 in addition to the medical coverage they need.
Rocky Flats, located north of Golden, produced the triggers for nuclear weapons before weapons production ended in 1989. Many of its workers developed various forms of cancer.
Allie Mazzuca worked for several years at Rocky Flats in the 1980s. She wore a radiation detector around her neck as part of her job. She has been diagosed with leukemia and thyroid cancer, and believes — like many other workers — the cancer came as a result of working there.
Mazzuca was recently denied medical benefits that could cover her for the future. Pills she has to take cost $3,600 a month.
“It’s overwhelming and very stressful,” she told CBS4 prior to the ruling. “Nobody knows what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Doug Hanson was a pipefitter for 22 years at Rocky Flats. He could need another $250,000 stem cell operation to treat his cancer.
He worked the “hottest jobs”.
“(It meant) possible radiation and we would have to wear protective clothing,” he said.
Hanson said if he has to pay for the operation himself it will “take everything I’ve got and not leave anything for my wife.”
Those fears greatly diminished with Wednesday’s meeting and vote, which former worker Michelle Dobrovolny was there to see in person.
“We worked hard for our country, we worked behind the scenes. We were proud of what we did. We got sick but that’s okay, we’re just happy,” she said of the decision.
Terrie Barrie, the wife of a former Rocky flats worker, had tears in her eyes after Wednesday’s ruling.
“It has been such a long hard fight,” she said.
The Department of Labor administers the claims, not NIOSH or HHS (organizations which has been involved in the process).
Workers who wish to qualify for the new benefits need to have one of 22 different types of cancer. See this web link for more information: cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/ocassec.html#cancers
People who will be eligible are the following:
“All employees of theDepartment of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Rocky Flats Plant in Golden, Colorado, from April 1, 1952 through December 31, 1983, for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring either solely under this employment or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees included in the Special Exposure Cohort.”
For information about how to file a claim or status of a claim, contact the DOL’s Denver Resource Center. The Department of Labor administers all claims related to the Special Exposure Cohort and determines a status of any claim. Contact information is as follows:
8758 Wolff Court, Suite 101
Westminster, Colorado 80031
(720) 540-4977 or toll free: (866) 540-4977
FAX: (720) 540-4976
Office Manager: Janele Horner-Zarate
The organization Cold War Patriots is assisting former Rocky Flats Workers. Their phone number is (888) 903-8989.
- DOL Web site
- General Information about the Special Exposure Cohort
- Special Exposure Cohort FAQs
- NIOSH Division of Compensation Analysis and Support Rocky Flats Plant Special Exposure Cohort information
- Currently, more than 700 claims with DOL which would be included in this class. That does not include claims from previous classes and claims not yet filed.
- Looking at 3-4 months before a class is final if added. DOL notifies claimants after a class is added.
- DOL administers the claims
- Pays $150,000 plus medical, if DOL adds a claim to the SEC
- Claimants not in the SEC must undergo dose reconstruction