WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. program to compensate weapons-plant workers injured from exposure to hazardous materials has paid nothing in four years -- despite 23,350 claims.
So appalling, in fact, is the Department of Energy's track record that health advocates and labor unions will testify Tuesday before the Senate Energy Committee as it examines the program, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Monday.
"The federal government's implementation of this program has been an insult to the Americans who served our country," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who will offer legislation again this year to reform the program.
Critics want the program transferred to the Department of Labor, which is responsible for a separate, smaller initiative that compensates former workers who are ill because of exposure to beryllium and silica. That program, which began at the same time as DOE's, has so far paid out $720 million.
"We're familiar with how it's working now, and how it's working now is not very good," Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Energy, said, admitting only 6 percent of the 23,350 claims had even been processed.