Updated: Friday, 23 Sep 2011, 3:45 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 21 Sep 2011, 5:39 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Some of the former workers at Sandia National Laboratories who developed cancer may finally be compensated.
A federal advisory board decided in August that certain former employees are eligible for the entitlement program.
It applies to certain employees who worked at Sandia Labs from 1949 to 1962.
Provocative ads in local papers are popping up, purchased by an out-of-towner eager to represent former Sandia workers diagnosed with cancer.
Albert Frowiss has been representing hundreds of former Los Alamos Lab workers since 2007 after they were deemed eligible for the program.
The cohort determining who is eligible was established by Congress in 2000 to provide compensation for certain former lab workers who now have cancer.
"The cohort defines a set of parameters, and if you fit within those parameters it puts you on a fast track for an award," says Frowiss.
The award is large: $150,000 to employees or survivors who've had cancer and worked in the specific time frames. Up to $250,000 more depending on how much damage the cancer has done.
"I was OK, but I mean it was a windfall for me to get this extra security," says Shirley Davis of Santa Fe.
Her husband passed away in 1986. She contacted Frowiss five years ago.
"He was there longer than anybody had ever worked that long," she says about her husband who worked at LANL for 40 years and died from liver failure caused by cancer," Davis said.
But the cancer itself wasn't necessarily from radiation exposure.
He did meet the qualifications of having worked there the minimum of 250 days during a specific time period, long before many nuclear facilities had accurate health records.
"They don't have to prove that radiation was the cause of the cancer," says Frowiss
Before September 9th, employees of Sandia Labs needed to prove that if they had cancer, it was from radiation.
Now under the cohort, those same employees have a better chance of being approved for compensation.
"The difference between winning and losing is $150,000," says Frowiss
Over the last 11 years $43 million in federal money has been paid to Sandia Labs employees who have proven that radiation exposure on the job caused their cancer.
If you were a Sandia Labs worker, diagnosed with cancer and who was previously denied a claim before the new cohort, you are still eligible to apply for a new claim.
Additional information is available from the Department of Energy's Occupational Illness Compensation Program website.