The Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas is the United States’ only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. It also is charged with maintaining the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Currently, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, over 1,300 people have been made sick or died due to exposure to chemicals and toxins in the plant.
One worker, Bob Ruzich, has developed throat and tongue cancer after thirty years of working at the Pantex Plant. Another worker, Charlie Somerville, developed chronic beryllium disease, a potentially fatal respiratory disease that can affect a person’s heart, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Additionally, Eddie Gray, a security guard at Pantex, had chronic beryllium disease before he developed three other cancers prior to his death. Along with these three men, hundreds have died or developed diseases due to exposure during their employment at Pantex.
Currently, $171 million in compensation and medical bills has been disbursed to more than 1,300 workers and families since an employees’ compensation program began in 2000. The energy employees’ compensation program has provided many employees with medical coverage and lump sum payments. Now the number of claimants is beyond the expectations of those who first created the program. It can take years for a claimant to receive any money. Additionally, many claims are not paid until after a worker dies; half of all claims are settled on behalf of survivors.
Further, many Pantex employees do not realize they are sick until it is too late. In the last year or so, five current and former employees have died quickly. Now, workers at Pantex are required to undergo annual physicals in which they submit blood samples. These samples are sent to National Jewish Health, which specializes in respiratory and allergic disorders.
If you or someone you know was injured due to chemical exposure, it is important to understand your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884 for a confidential consultation.