SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 27, 2012

Our view: Recognizing a wartime sacrifice

(Continued)

The computer’s number was insultingly specific — there was a 44.62 percent chance that working for years around uranium and other radioactive material contributed to the illness, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The software uses information gleaned from employee’s medical records and radiation monitoring reports. In the case of Metal Hydrides, however, those monitoring reports were worse than useless.

Glover’s report has provided ample evidence that there wasn’t much safety work or radiation monitoring going on in Beverly.

So we are pleased that U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has recommended to Congress that Metal Hydrides employees from the 1940s who were later diagnosed with cancer be granted a special status that could lead to as much as $150,000 in compensation.

The change means former employees or their surviving family members no longer have to prove their cancer was caused by working at Metal Hydrides — they only need to prove they worked there between 1942 and 1948.

It also means the government has finally recognized that the work being done at Metal Hydrides and other plants on behalf of the country was incredibly dangerous, despite the fact that little monitoring of that danger was done at the time.

Whether they knew it or not, many of the workers at Metal Hydrides sacrificed their health, and possibly their lives, for their country. It’s long past time for the country to acknowledge that sacrifice.

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