The Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, a nuclear weapons facility nearby Cincinnati, Ohio, was one of several hundred U.S. plants that aided in nuclear weapons production, and also endangered workers through high doses of ionizing radiation, later causing multiple fatal forms of cancer in dozens of workers.
Workers at such atomic weapons factories, producing uranium for nuclear weapons, have been known for many years to suffer from a higher rate of brain cancer (glioblastoma), lung cancer, leukemia, intestinal and blood cancers than the rest of the American population.
National Lead of Ohio (NLO) Inc., a subsidiary of NL Industries, built the Feed Materials Production Center, a uranium processing factory, in Fernald, Ohio in 1952. The Fernald plant operated for the Federal Government until 1985, and the Fernald plant halted weapons production completely in 1989.
Joseph Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio toxic exposure attorney, reviewing claims of radiation exposure nationwide. For a free consultation, call The Lyon Firm.
Extensive records on more than 7,000 people who worked at the Fernald nuclear weapons plant for more than 90 days, including studies undertaken in both the 1960’s and the 1980’s, indicate an increased risk of cancer for workers.
A 1986 study by an Energy Department identified what they called a “trend” in unusual rates of colon cancer among Fernald workers. In 1988, another epidemiologist said that seven Fernald workers had died of liver cancer.
Such cancer incidence findings are not surprising to most health experts who have linked occupational radiation exposure to cancer for many years. Exposure to radiation is extremely perilous to the health of workers, though the long-term environmental and health consequences take time to manifest themselves.
Further research made sure to note the cause of cancer deaths among former Fernald workers. Former employees have been diagnosed and have died from multiple cancers including glioblastoma, colon cancer, liver cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, lung cancer, lymphoma and leukemia. The median life expectancy of Fernald workers was 58 years, five years less than the median life expectancy of all Americans at the time of the study.
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By the 1970s, a substantial body of medical literature began accumulating regarding the negative health consequences of nuclear weapons production on workers and the surrounding communities. The Fernald facility, built in the rural communities of Ross and Crosby townships, approximately twenty miles northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, became a problem for not only workers in the plant but for the entire region.
For every one pound of uranium processed, over two pounds of toxic waste was produced. According to records, a 226-acre area of the Great Miami Aquifer was contaminated—giant waste pits were created, with over 30 million pounds of uranium product stored, and millions of cubic yards of local soil contaminated.
Community members filed a class action suit and the DOE agreed to pay $78 million dollars for property devaluation and for the medical monitoring of community members. Community members complained of cancer risks, contaminated water, elevated breast cancer incidences and higher rates of autoimmune disorders.
Even if the government and its contractors denied the findings in damaging studies, the cancer victims of the Fernald facilities and their families made themselves known.
Then in 1984, the Department of Energy (DOE), and National Lead of Ohio (NLO), the plant operator, both acknowledged that 300 pounds of enriched uranium oxide had been released into the air from a malfunctioning safety device. The Department of Energy also admitted that multiple water wells located south of the plant had been contaminated with uranium.
There is no arguing that workers in the Cincinnati, Ohio Fernald plant and many other nuclear sites across the country have been exposed to radioactive materials over long periods of time, sometimes without their knowledge.
As a result, a 2000 Presidential Executive Order—Providing Compensation for America’s Nuclear Weapons Workers—established the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation program (EEOICPA).
The goal of the EEOICPA was to properly compensate plant workers and their survivors for their patriotic duty. The program is a positive step in protecting workers, however, some cancer patients and survivors may need further legal representation to receive proper compensation.
In 1990, Fernald workers filed a lawsuit in 1994 and worked out a settlement. The national Fernald workers compensation program is in place so that workers can receive a lump sum payment of $150,000 and medical care if they have one of 22 designated cancers. The U.S. Government has reportedly already paid out more than $10 billion to victims and survivors of occupational radiation exposure.
Veterans who have participated in a radiation-risk activity during service may be at heightened risk of certain cancers in the years and decades following exposure.
Afflicted Veterans don’t have to prove a connection between certain related diseases and their service to be eligible for compensation. Their survivors and families may also be eligible for benefits if the Veteran dies as the result of ionizing radiation exposure. Specific related cancers include:
Other cancers associated with radiation exposure include cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver, lung, pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, intestine, stomach, thyroid, and urinary tract. The VA also recognizes other diseases are possibly caused by exposure to ionizing radiation during service:
Toxic exposure cases help empower employees to fight for their right to be protected, satisfactorily informed, and to stay safe. They also bring awareness to challenge and higher the expectations of companies who are not serving their employees justly.
If you worked at Fernald or another nuclear plant in the US and have developed cancer, you may have a viable case.
While the chances of contracting cancer from background radiation is relatively low, daily radiation exposure at the workplace will dramatically increase a worker’s chances of cancer diagnosis.
Brain cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer.
The Lyon Firm is experienced in filing workplace radiation exposure suits for workers nationwide who have developed illnesses or cancer following toxic exposure.
The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to toxic exposure to obtain just compensation under the law.
(Hamilton County, Ohio): Confidential Settlement. Lead Counsel in a case that involved secondary lead exposure to two children. Their father worked at a local recycling plant that routinely recycled computer equipment. The company violated numerous OSHA regulations related to providing safety equipment and clothing to prevent lead particles from being transferred home. As a result, the Plaintiffs father transferred lead dust to his children who then suffered lead poisoning. The case was covered extensively by the Cincinnati news media and referenced in peer-reviewed medical literature. The settlement will provide educational needs to the children who suffered neurological injuries due the exposure.