Grassley Seeks Further Assistance for Army Ammunition Plant Workers

? As part of his ongoing effort to ensure fair compensation for Iowa Army Ammunition Plant workers, Sen. Chuck Grassley is developing bipartisan legislation that would reform the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of (EEOICPA) 2000.

"I want to ensure timely and adequate federal assistance to employees who worked in very hazardous conditions while they assembled our nation's nuclear deterrent during the cold war. The delays that these people have endured can no longer be tolerated," Grassley said.

The EEOICPA was created to provide workers who became ill from service in the nation's nuclear weapons facilities with cash payments and medical benefits.

Grassley recently wrote to the Health and Human Services Department to object to a regulation that would make it harder for former Iowa Army Ammunition Plant workers to receive compensation. The letter objected to detailed and technical parts of a proposed rule for implementing the EEOICPA.

Last April, Grassley also sent a letter to the Secretary of Energy that asked questions about the Department's handling of the compensation program for Iowans and others. He also requested a formal review of the Energy Department's performance due to their lack of action in helping ill workers.

This legislation seeks to remedy many problems that Grassley has uncovered in the Department of Energy's administration of the EEOICPA. Grassley said that based on information available on the Energy Department's website, more than 15,000 claims have been filed with the Department over the last two year period and only 14 of those claims have been processed. Also, none of the 14 claimants have received any payment on their respective claim.

Grassley has been working with Sens. Jeff Bingaman, of New Mexico, and Jim Bunning, of Kentucky, to draft legislation. The three senators hope to have their legislation introduced by the July 4th Congressional Recess.

Grassley also said that a traveling Resource Center will be in Southeast Iowa in August to help former Iowa Army Ammunition Plant workers. Officials from the Departments of Energy and Labor will be available to answer questions and offer guidance to former workers, or their dependents, who file claims for compensation under the EEOICPA.