A representative from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was in Western New York, at the request of Congressman Brian Higgins and U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, to hear from former Bethlehem Steel employees who have suffered from health issues related to exposure at the nuclear rolling facility.
“These workers did nothing other than going to work each day and carrying out their jobs all the while they were being unknowingly exposed to toxic contaminants,” said Congressman Higgins. “We are thankful to NIOSH for coming to Western New York to hear directly from the dedicated retirees directly.”
Uranium was rolled at the Bethlehem Steel facility from 1949-1952. Due to a lack of appropriate protections and, subsequently, an inadequate clean up, workers were unknowingly exposed to high levels of radiation and to residual toxic uranium dust. After years of struggle, in 2010 the Secretary of Health and Human Services finally granted a Special Exposure Cohort for workers at the site during the time period 1949-1952, while uranium was being actively rolled.
Congressman Higgins called on officials to meet with the workers directly to hear their firsthand accounts and finally extend the period of eligibility so that workers could simply apply for compensation.
Workers at the site during the time when rolling occurred and after 1952 have come forward with accounts showing that any potential clean-up of the radioactivity was grossly inadequate to make the worksite safe for them after the last uranium rods were shipped out, indicating that contamination likely existed until a more complete cleanup occurred in 1976.
If a former worker and their survivors are deemed eligible, they would qualify for $150,000 in compensation for their injuries.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness.