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Department of Labor to Help Uranium Workers File Claims in Moab

A uranium mill tailings pile near Moab, Utah.

The US Department of Labor is holding town hall meetings in Moab this week to help uranium workers who may be eligible for compensation and medical benefits.

Utahns who became ill as a result of working in the uranium mining industries between 1942 and 1971 may be eligible for as much as 150,000 thousand dollars as well as medical benefits. This compensation has been available since the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program was established in 1992 under the Department of Justice.  Utah Senator Orrin Hatch helped pass legislation to start the program, and the Department of Labor expanded it in 2000. But Preston J. Truman, founder and director of a downwinders advocacy group, says it’s taken a long time for this kind of outreach to get to Utah.

“It’s funny that most of the stuff that’s been done on it has been outreach in New Mexico,” Truman says. “Moab was the boom city, the main focus point of the uranium boom of the 1950’s. A lot of miners there really have never been outreached to as they should have, so this is good news.”

To date, more than 180 million dollars has been paid out to 1,886 Utahns who filed claims, according to the US Labor Department. Truman says that’s maybe a third of the workers affected in the state. He says many of them have already died, though their families may be eligible for compensation. For information on benefits available, public meetings take place Tuesday and Wednesday this week at Star Hall in Moab.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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