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Background and History of the Former Workers Programs

In Section 3162 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993 (Pub. L. 102-484), Congress told the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop medical evaluation programs for current and former DOE workers “at significant risk for health problems due to exposures to hazardous or radioactive substances during employment” (Federal Register Vol. 62, No. 57, 3/25/97 P.14122 -14125). 

DOE began the Former Workers Programs in response to this mandate. In October 1996, DOE funded six pilot programs at sites across the DOE Nuclear Weapons Complex. These programs are:  

  • Hanford Former Construction Workers
  • Hanford Former Production Workers
  • Rocky Flats Former Workers
  • Nevada Test Site Former Workers
  • Oak Ridge Former Construction Workers
  • Gaseous Diffusion Plant Production Workers at Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Portsmouth. 

In 1997, four more pilot programs were added. One of these four is the program at LANL. The names of the  programs are:

  • Former Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)
  • Former Production Workers at Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory
  • Savannah River Site Construction Workers
  • Savannah River Site Production Workers.

Since 1999, three more programs started and are listed below:

  • Amchitka Former Workers (Alaska)
  • Iowa Army Ammunition Plant Former Workers
  • Pantex Former Workers

Currently, there are Former Worker Programs located at the sites listed above and also at these sites:

  • Ames Laboratory Former Workers
  • Argonne National Laboratory Former Workers
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory Former Construction Workers
  • Brookhaven National Laboratory Former Production Workers
  • Fermi Lab Former Workers
  • Fernald Former Construction Workers
  • Fernald Former Production Workers
  • Gaseous Diffusion Plant Construction Workers at Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Portsmouth. 
  • Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory Former Construction Workers
  • Kansas City Plant Former Construction Workers
  • Kansas City Plant Former Production Workers
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Former Workers
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Former Workers
  • Mound Former Construction Workers
  • Mound Former Production Workers
  • Oak Ridge Y-12 and ORNL Production Workers
  • Pinellas Former Construction Workers
  • Pinellas Former Production Workers
  • Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Former Workers
  • Rocky Flats Construction Workers
  • Sandia National Laboratory (Albuquerque, NM) Former Workers
  • Sandia National Laboratory (Livermore, CA) Former Workers

To get more information about the programs listed above click on the DOE website below:

DOE Former Worker Programs

Medical Exam Program for Former LANL Workers

The Medical Exam Program for Former Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory is a two-phase project. Phase I was a one-year Needs Assessment that ended in November 1998. Phase II began in August 1999 and is a four-year medical exam program. 

During Phase I, the program team conducted a Needs Assessment to determine if there was a need for a medical screening program at LANL. Information was collected on exposure, health impacts, the size of exposed populations, former LANL workers’ concerns and recommendations, and the severity of the health outcome.   

Based on this information, the investigators recommended screening for six exposure categories: asbestos, beryllium, lead, noise, radiation, and solvents. Phase II began in 1999 and the medical exam program was developed. The program office opened in Española, New Mexico in February of 2000 and the first exams were done in April of 2000. 

Over the years of the program we hope to achieve the goals listed below. These goals include ways that the program hopes to assist individual former workers as well as how the overall former workers programs can assist all former workers. These goals include the following:

  • Identify former workers who had significant past exposures to the six agents.
  • Offer these former workers a free medical exam and selected tests.
  • Identify medical problems that may be related to past work.
  • Direct former workers to early treatment of these medical problems.
  • Reassure former workers of their current state of health.
  • Educate former workers about workers’ compensation on the federal and state level.
  • Answer former workers questions about health concerns.
  • Provide information about agents to former workers.
  • Provide information for primary care providers about health conditions related to the six agents.
  • Bring former workers’ concerns to the attention of LANL and DOE.
  • Through cooperation and information sharing, identify the health problems of former workers from all of DOE’s nuclear weapons facilities.

While the program hopes to assist former workers in the ways listed above, there are limitations to this program as described below.

  • One time exam and tests will not find every problem.
  • Does not cover follow up exam.
  • May offer repeat exams or tests in the future. 
  • Cannot cover every agent or exposure found at LANL over the past 50 years.