Colorado Dems ask Obama to help move nuke worker compensation bill

Colorado legislators headed by Sen. Mark Udall asked the federal government Friday to help former nuclear weapons workers made ill by exposure to radiation by cutting back the bureaucracy that has unfairly prevented many of them from receiving compensation and care.

In a letter signed by Udall, Sen. Michael Bennet and Colorado Democratic Reps Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, Betsy Markey and Ed Perlmutter, the lawmakers asked that the compensation program already in place be made more “patient friendly.”

The members of Colorado’s Democratic delegation in DC are all co-sponsors of Senate and House bills named for Charlie Wolf, a contractor who died after contracting cancer from exposure to radiation while working at Rocky Flats, a weapons production facility near Denver. Wolf spent the last years of his life trying and failing to win compensation from the federal government.

According to a release, put out by Udall’s office today, the Charlie Wolf Nuclear Workers Compensation Act would “improve the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act by putting in place safeguards against workers like Wolf being denied help.”

Because the bill is currently waylaid in Congress, the lawmakers are asking that the Obama administration take action to cut back the red tape that has hobbled the program.

“Although we will continue to strongly promote this legislation, we are concerned that many claimants will continue to experience delays and denials of compensation until this legislation can be enacted and implemented,” the delegation wrote in its letter.

“While we are mindful of the need to review claims and make sure that compensation is due, we also believe that many deserving claimants are encountering significant obstacles in this process – obstacles that we believe result in the delay or even denial of legitimate claims.”

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