NUCLEAR RISKS: Weapons Workers Have Higher Risk of Cancer
Bomb factory workers who built American nuclear weapons during the Cold War period "suffered higher than normal rates of a wide range of cancers and clearly were exposed to cancer-causing radiation and chemicals in the workplace," according to a preliminary report by the government. The White House-ordered study reviewed health data for 600,000 nuclear weapons workers, who labored at 14 different sites from the late 1940s to the 1960s, concluding that the workers experienced higher rates of 22 types of cancer, including leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate, kidney, salivary gland and lung cancers. Although no direct causal link between the exposures and specific illnesses was found, a source close to the report said that the higher disease rates are "clearly related to exposure there (in the workplace)" (AP/Washington Times, 1/30). The findings by the White House National Economic Council panel tear down "a major roadblock" to offering workers compensation, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said. The Energy Department has never before admitted that Cold War nuclear weapons workers may have been put at risk. A national compensation program for workers will likely be established by Congress after the NEC panel submits its final report in March (Warrick, Washington Post, 1/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.