Nuclear Weapons Legacy: $1 Billion Paid to Tennesseeans

The Labor Department announced Tuesday that its payments to Tennesseee residents via the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act have crossed that threshold.

Building the nation's atomic weapons has cost a great deal -- more than $4.8 billion in medical benefits and compensation since the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was enacted. And the U.S. Labor Department, which administers the payment system, announced Tuesday that payments to 9,134 Tennessee residents have reached $1 billion.

The $4.8 billion has been paid to 51,331 claimants nationwide, according to DOL. The law helps individuals who became sick from working in the atomic weapons industry and their survivors, in some cases.

"Many covered facilities, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant (K-25), and the Y-12 Plant, are located in the state of Tennessee. Individuals who worked at these and other covered facilities located throughout the state sacrificed their health to build this nation's nuclear defense programs. Therefore, I am proud to be able to announce that the department has paid more than $1 billion in benefits to deserving Tennessee residents," said Rachel P. Leiton, director of the department's Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation, which administers EEOICPA. "But we also believe that there may be others eligible in Tennessee who have not yet filed for these benefits." DOL urged such individuals to call 866-481-0411 for information.

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