The Ritz Herald
The C Reactor is one of the five nuclear reactors at the Savannah River Site, all of which no longer function as reactors. © Michael Pronzato

Sick Nuclear Workers Are Getting Caught Up in Administrative Loopholes

On anniversary of historic law, legal expert James Faller signs on to help nearly 500 sick nuclear workers

Published on June 27, 2020

20 years ago, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (See parts of Executive Order 13179 below)

Due to bureaucratic red tape, thousands of former nuclear workers will die fighting for money.

Compensation claims are to help offset lack of employment, medical bills, and family needs.

Gary Vanderboegh formed the Commonwealth Environmental Services, LLC company in 2007, after becoming a whistleblower about toxic working conditions—and– getting terminated by a contractor at the Paducah, Kentucky Department of Energy Diffusion Plant.

He is working to help 480 cancer-stricken, sick nuclear workers– like himself– navigate through the complicated filing process and administration appeals and hearings.

However, Vanderboegh has terminal Beryllium cancer, he says contracted at the Kentucky plant while working there for 14 years. “Our team cleaned radioactive machinery and breathed in beryllium dust and other vapors,” said the Kentucky native.

“Like so many other former DOE workers, Gary is facing diminishing abilities and asked me to take the lead to make his client’s families whole,” said civil rights legal expert James Faller, who has a long history of working with the “underdog”—such as falsely convicted prisoners.

Faller’s based in Augusta, Georgia near the Savannah River Nuclear Site. He’s helping Harvey Reif—who worked at SRS for many years and developed kidney cancer in 2004 while working at a DOE site and then pancreatic cancer. He was out of work for 2 years from his highly paid consulting work at nuclear plants.

“According to letters from 4 physicians…that tended to me and cared for me, these cancers can be directly related to my work environment,” said Reif

Faller sees a pattern in his research that sick nuclear workers are getting caught up in administrative loopholes. He intends to hold officials accountable at powerful, federal government offices.

Executive Order 13179 clearly states, “Thousands of these courageous Americans, however, paid a high price for their service, developing disabling or fatal illnesses as a result of exposure to beryllium, ionizing radiation, and other hazards unique to nuclear weapons production and testing. Too often, these workers were neither adequately protected from, nor informed of, the occupational hazards to which they were exposed.”This order sets out agency responsibilities to accomplish these goals, building on the Administration’s articulated principles and the framework set forth in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Energy shall be responsible for developing and implementing actions under the Act to compensate these workers and their families in a manner that is compassionate, fair, and timely. Other Federal agencies, as appropriate, shall assist in this effort.”

“We want them to go back and investigate every claim and ensure compensation to the intent of the order signed in 2000. They are not following the law,” added Faller.

Executive Editor