Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
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Town halls set over redress for illnesses

The program has paid out $13.9 billion in claims on nearly 200,000 cases

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    Brush's plant near Elmore has repeatedly overexposed its workers to toxic beryllium dust.

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The U.S. Department of Labor plans a pair of town hall meetings next month in Perrysburg Township to provide information about a program that offers compensation for people suffering from certain illnesses as a result of their employment at facilities that worked in the production of nuclear weapons.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program can provide compensation of up to $400,000 to people diagnosed with a radiogenic cancer, chronic beryllium disease, beryllium sensitivity, or chronic silicosis as a result of exposure to dangerous materials at their workplace.

To date, the program has paid out $13.9 billion in claims on nearly 200,000 cases.

The Department of Labor identified 13 sites across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan whose current and former employees may be eligible.

Locally, much of that centers on beryllium, a nonradioactive but still dangerous element that has been produced and processed at a number of sites in northwest Ohio.

Beryllium was widely used during World War II and the Cold War in the production of atomic weapons.

A 1999 investigation by The Blade found at least least 75 current or former workers at a beryllium plant near Elmore, then called Brush Wellman, had contracted beryllium disease, a chronic lung illness caused by the metal’s toxic dust.

The U.S. Department of Labor said employees of that facility — now known as Materion Brush Inc. — are eligible for the program, as are Materion employees in Luckey and Lorain, Ohio, as well as in Detroit.

Other facilities include the Baker Brothers plant in Toledo, which made uranium slugs for the Manhattan Project, and the University of Michigan.

The town hall meetings will be at 6 p.m. July 12 and 10 a.m. July 13 at the Holiday Inn French Quarter. The meetings are open to the public, and no advance registration is necessary.

For additional information, contact the Office of the Ombudsman for EEOICPA toll-free at 877-662-8363 or email ombudsman@dol.gov.

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