The Department of Energy has moved to reclassify several nuclear facilities as being low-level operations that purportedly do not pose a hazard to the general public. It is also seeking to restrict members of a federal oversight board from questioning staff at certain facilities without prior consent of DOE officials. It proposes limiting the board’s access to sensitive documentation while seeking to incorporate more legal protections. There are serious concerns that such changes could negatively impact workplace safety at nuclear facilities across the country, including the Callaway Nuclear Generating Station in Portland, Missouri.
The safety of nuclear materials have long been questioned. One way that the Department of Energy sought to placate those who questioned whether the well-being of workers was being prioritized was to work with a review board that oversees the operations of facilities that utilized nuclear materials. The proposed changes could now hamper this federal review board in ensuring the safety of employees who work with these materials.
It was learned that the DOE proposed these changes earlier this year. This federal board was created in 1988 in response to concerns that both public and worker safety could be in jeopardy from nuclear materials. In the past, lax safety measures led to countless employees developing cancer and other illnesses due to the lack of protective measures.
Board members expressed doubts over whether the proposed changes are consistent with the Atomic Energy Act and are worried that relaxed protocols will lessen workplace safety for thousands of workers. Missouri workers who believe that the failure of employers to follow regulations contributed to an illness or on-the-job injury are entitled to seek benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance program. An attorney well-versed in the process can provide assistance in filing a claim for maximum benefits.