Director Installed at New Office of Nuclear Worker's Advocacy
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson announced the appointment of Loretta Valerio as director of the newly established Office of Nuclear Worker’s Advocacy, an office designed as a liaison between claimants and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Resource Center, union officials, DOE contractors, retiree groups, and others to provide assistance and guidance to those who encounter obstacles in the adjudication of their claim.
"I believe that it is the duty of the State of New Mexico to advocate and assist nuclear workers who have been exposed to toxic substances, which have adversely affected their bodies, livelihood and quality of life," said House Speaker Ben Lujan, the author and sponsor of HB 779, which established the office. "The current system requires lay people to navigate through a difficult bureaucracy. Now these workers and their families can be given the attention and assistance they truly deserve."
The Office of Nuclear Workers will be housed at Aspen Plaza, 1596 Pacheco Street, Room 206 in Santa Fe starting on August 27, 2007. Current and former nuclear workers who would like to apply and seek assistance for compensation from the EEOICA should contact their office at 505-827-1636.
Valerio has served as a caseworker for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation program in Espanola for the past six years with Paragon Technical services and the Eagle Research Group. She understands the complex process of applying, documenting, and following-up with the federal government, Richardson said. There are currently 12,933 New Mexico applications filed with the Department of Labor, which includes uranium industry employees (qualified under the RECA program), current and former workers, as well as eligible survivors of the DOE workers.