- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a former mayor of Kansas City, has announced that he will seek a hearing and a congressional investigation into a federal compensation program for employees who became ill after working in nuclear weapons plants.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program was established in 2001. The government originally predicted that the program would serve 3,000 people at an annual cost of $120 million. About $12 billion has been paid to more than 53,000 workers.

The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1OLEDbQ ) reports that Cleaver and other members of Congress say the program should get a closer look after an investigation by news organization McClatchy found that fewer than half of the people who have applied have received any money.

McClatchy reported last week that 107,394 current and former nuclear workers have sought compensation for cancer and various other illnesses.

According to McClatchy, the approval rating for former employees of the Kansas City plant is just 23 percent, less than half of the national average. More than 2,000 cases have been filed on behalf of at least 1,447 people who worked at the plant, which closed last year, but only about 300 of those workers or their family members have been compensated.

Cleaver said, “That shows the hugeness of the issue, and then of course the number of those who actually received compensation seems invisibly low.”

Cleaver sent a letter to the House Committee on Government Reform Tuesday requesting the investigation. Once Cleaver graduated from college, he worked in production control at a now-closed plant that manufactured parts for nuclear weapons.

“It is imperative that the federal government pursues appropriate action to right this wrong,” Cleaver said.

McClatchy’s investigation also raised questions about worker safety. It reported that contractors for the Department of Energy have paid tens of millions in fines for safety violations related to radiation at nuclear facilities around the country.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kansascity.com

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


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