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Nuclear-Weapons Production May Cost Insurers Billions.

NEW ORLEANS - A federal program that would provide $150,000 and payment of future medical costs to workers made ill from working on nuclear weapons production could cost the insurance industry billions of dollars, an industry representative said.

Speaking before the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Workers' Compensation Task Force, Bruce Wood, assistant general counsel for the American Insurance Association, said the act is similar to the federal black-lung program of 1969, which provided compensation for coal miners who suffered from black-lung disease. The black-lung program was supposed to be temporary, but Congress made it permanent in 1972.

The black-lung program "has cost tens and tens of billions with no end in sight," Wood said.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 establishes a program to provide compensation to employees of the Department of Energy, its contractors and subcontractors, and companies that provided beryllium to the Department of Energy and nuclear weapons employers. Covered employees who suffer from an illness caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica are eligible for a lump-sum payment of $150,000 for disability and payment of future medical expenses associated with the disease. Survivor benefits are also available.

Kate Kimpan, senior policy analyst with the Department of Energy, said there are more than 600,000 nuclear weapons employees.
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Title Annotation:worker liability claims
Comment:Nuclear-Weapons Production May Cost Insurers Billions.(worker liability claims)
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:217
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