The Maryville Daily Times: Alexander proposes National Day of Remembrance for nuclear workers

Posted on April 9, 2014

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander Tuesday introduced a resolution to designate Oct. 30, 2014, as the sixth National Day of Remembrance for nuclear weapons program workers.

“Tennesseans played a major role in winning the Cold War, working with little-understood hazardous materials to build our nation’s nuclear weapons,” Alexander said. “As a result, nearly 15,000 Tennesseans have filed claims for compensation, many of whom worked with radiation and harmful substances. It’s those Tennesseans, and those all around the country, whose patriotism and sacrifice we seek to honor with this day of remembrance.”

The Day of Remembrance will honor all Americans, including tens of thousands of Tennessee men and women, who supported the nation’s nuclear efforts since World War II through the Cold War and workers in nuclear weapons programs today.

Many of these men and women live in Blount and other East Tennessee counties.

Alexander, R-Tenn., is the lead co-sponsor of the resolution with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Last year, Alexander and Udall also introduced a bipartisan plan, the Toxic Substances and Worker Health Advisory Board Act, to create an independent advisory panel to help Cold War-era workers from Oak Ridge and other nuclear weapons facilities get the help they need to treat cancer and other illnesses they developed as a result of exposure to toxic substances.

The panel would advise the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program in order to help the men and women who file claims. The program has seen delays in awarding benefits to those found to be sick from exposure to hazardous materials, and Alexander’s legislation aims to improve the process.