As if the Bush administration doesn’t have enough problems already, a new problem is brewing.
Bush is locked in a battle with his fellow republican in congress. Congress wants to stream line the process for getting medical attention for the atomic workers who got sick making this country’s nuclear bombs. Bush is opposed to any changes.
Presently, an ill atomic worker has to apply for benefits and medical attention through the Energy Department contractors. Congress wants to move control of the program to the Labor Department and stream-line the process to make it more expedient and atomic workers can start getting treatment earlier.
So far, the Energy Department has squandered much of the $95 million it received since Congress created the program, and only 31 claims have been paid out of 25,000 filed. Nobody is sure where the money even went.
The White House is not making any comments on Bush’s hard line and or his opposition to getting help for the atomic workers.
A month ago when the White House announced the appointment of Susan Grant as the Energy Department's chief financial officer. But Bush side stepped congress and appointed her when congress was out of session and no confirmation hearings could be brought forth.
A quote from the Associated Press: ‘The workers were exposed to toxic substances such as radiation, heavy metals, asbestos and harsh solvents and acids while employed by Energy Department contractors. They often were not told what they were working with and did not have adequate protections.’
An atomic worker faces the most job related hazardous of all the jobs in America – and this is their thanks by a grateful president.
20 years ago, Karen Silkwood, an atomic worker, was about to go public on the safety hazards and lack of security in the atomic weapons program. Silkwood was employed by a plant that produced weapons grade plutonium. She was killed in a mysterious hit and run accident and her assailant(s) were never found.
This reporter predicts the matter will fall under the table and will soon disappear completely.