The History of EEOICPA
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. Congress stated the law was enacted because nuclear weapons production and testing involves unique dangers and workers could be harmed by exposure to even small amounts of radiation or beryllium. Congress felt that a large number of Cold War nuclear weapons workers at Department of Energy (DOE) sites and their vendor workers had been put at risk without their knowledge or consent. Previously secret records documented unmonitored exposures to radiation and toxic chemicals, as well as continuing problems at these sites.
Prior to the enactment of EEOICPA, DOE’s policy had been to litigate occupational illness claims. Because DOE contractors were always held harmless it was nearly impossible for nuclear workers harmed by their Cold War work to gain compensation.
In the last twenty years over two dozen scientific studies have been published that show that some workers have increased risks of dying from cancer and other diseases. Several studies showed a correlation between excess disease and radiation or beryllium exposure. Studies also showed that 98% of radiation induced cancers in nuclear workers occurred at radiation levels less than the existing maximum “safe” levels.
EEOICPA was enacted to help compensate Cold War nuclear workers for the damage that had been done to them by the Federal government.