Claims seek reparations for exposure to radiation

Remigio Galvan’s widow and daughter started the paperwork Tuesday to determine whether his survivors can be compensated for radiation exposure.

Galvan died in 2009 after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, thyroid cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, many of the kinds of diseases noted in uranium miners, millers and haulers.

Galvan, however, never worked with radioactive materials.

He did work as a security guard at the Grand Junction Office of the Department of Energy for 21 years, which might make him eligible for compassionate compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation program.

Galvan’s widow, Erlinda, and daughter, Anita Littlepage, applied for compensation in his name Tuesday at the Doubletree Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive, at a traveling resource center from the U.S. Department of Labor, which administers the program.

Claimants can be awarded as much as $50,000 and receive medical coverage for compensable conditions.

Officials at the resource center said they took in 25 new claims for compensation during the daylong event.

Galvan’s survivors are seeking compensation as part of a special-exposure cohort of people who worked for the federal government but were ineligible for compassionate payments because they worked for the federal government during the years between 1943 and 1975.

“They always told them they were safe,” Littlepage said of the assurances offered to people who worked on the grounds, in the offices and, in Galvan’s case, security. Galvan never wore a radiation badge, she said.

Her father was a reliable worker, though, Littlepage said.

“He’d work a regular shift and pick up a lot of overtime, so he was there a lot,” she said.

Claims are examined by officials in Washington, D.C.

Officials with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health established the special cohort earlier this year at the request of former Grand Junction Mayor Cindy Enos-Martinez, whose father died from stomach cancer after working for 32 years for federal agencies dealing with nuclear power.

Recognition of the contributions of the people who worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Energy and their contractors is long overdue, Littlepage said.

“There are a lot of people we know (from those installations) that have died,” she said.


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