Deadly Denial

Deadly Denial

Investigative series about tens of thousands of nuclear arms workers who unsuccessfully applied for compensation for severe job-related illnesses.

Tens of thousands of former nuclear arms workers are sick, dying or dead because of their exposure to radiation and other poisons. From uranium miners to scientists to secretaries, these workers are fighting an uphill battle for compensation with the U.S. Department of Labor. In response to the overwhelming number of claims, the government enacted a compensation program in 2000, but still just one in four claimants has been compensated. This ambitious, in-depth series by the Rocky Mountain News tackles the science, the medicine, the law and the human side of this story through the eyes of a wide range of Americans. This is the story of thousands of workers who held top secret jobs during the Cold War helping to build nuclear weapons to defend their country. Now sick or dying they are dismayed to find their government turning its back on them in their time of need. Even those able to afford lawyers, doctors and scientists to bolster their cases often have their claims denied.

The package includes three stand-alone videos, graphics, a slideshow and a plethora of stories representing years of research and reporting. The videos include interviews with a wide range of claimants:

• A 62-year old widow of a Rocky Flats radiation technician tearfully describes her grievous fight for compensation after her husband’s death. She quit her job to take care of her dying husband and needs the money to survive. But because he held a top-secret job she didn’t know the answers to the questions investigators kept asking – where did he work, did he wear gloves, which chemicals did he handle?

• A former secretary at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation explains her probable death will come from her expanding liver crowding out her heart. Her lungs are scarred with beryllium, a key ingredient in atomic bombs.

• A dying former bomb-maker believes his wife’s advocacy work on behalf of sick nuclear workers nationwide has undermined his chances at receiving full compensation. His government file is 4,000 pages long and he recently discovered it contains advocacy letters unrelated to his case from his wife to government officials.

• The manager of the Office of Navaho Uranium Workers is an advocate for 10,000 Navaho men who mined uranium for atomic bombs. Early on the government knew that uranium could cause lung damage but rather than warning the miners, it decided to study them.

The project also includes developments since its publication date, including a letter from the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor and a rebuttal from the newspaper’s editor.

Reporter: Laura Frank
Photographer: Javier Manzano
Video: Javier Manzano
Print Designer: Steve Miller
Graphics Artist: Michael Hall
Web Producer: Duncan Taylor
Copy Editor: John Moore
Photo Editor: Dean Krakel
Project Editor: Jim Trotter

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  Posted by Cheap Oakley M Frame on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 04:39 PST
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