Former nuclear workers win step toward payments

Sen. Harry Reid says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is changing position to support a key measure for compensating sick former Nevada Test Site workers.

Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday the next step is for the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health to approve the NIOSH "special cohort status" recommendation next month.

The designation lets case evaluators attribute illnesses to work at the nation's nuclear proving ground north of Las Vegas without a cumbersome government "dose reconstruction" process.

Former workers complain sick colleagues are dying while the government slowly processes claims for medical benefits and $150,000 payments under a program created by Congress in 2001.

NIOSH has estimated about 500 of workers from the years of underground nuclear tests, 1963 to 1992, could qualify.


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