Benefits available to nuclear energy workers

The Department of Labor is reaching out to employees from nuclear energy industries, like those who worked at the former Brush Wellman beryllium plant in Luckey.

Majestic Home Care, a benefits management company contracted by the Department of Labor, branched to Ohio to serve nuclear energy workers in 2019.

“I want optimal outreach for our nuclear energy heroes, to claim the benefits they rightfully deserve,” said Brittany Sabol, Majestic Home Care clinical director. “I’m just trying to get the word out, because I’m surrounded by these beryllium facilities, atomic weapon employers and nuclear energy facilities. It’s all over northern Ohio, and every person I talk to, they don’t know what a Department of Labor White Card is.”

The Department of Labor White Card is a benefits card that covers 100% of medical appointments, medications, transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, and even up to 24-hour, in-home health care for Department of Energy facilities.

Benefits may apply to anyone who worked at any facility working with nuclear materials in northern Ohio. The individual need not be a retired worker, or even have had a job that required the handling of radioactive materials. Because the majority of individuals would now be seniors, benefits may also be available for surviving spouses.

“The jobs that could qualify you is basically anything, working inside of a facility, from administrative, to cleanup, to cafeteria worker, or inspector. It’s all covered,” Sabol said. “Some people may think that it’s just if you deal with the metals, but no, it’s everything.”

There are a wide variety of diseases that can come from working at the facilities.

“These are just the common (diseases). There are respiratory diseases like COPD, chronic asthma, chronic beryllium disease, you can get emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and there are a slew of cancers that can come from working at these plants, including bone cancer, renal cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, lymphoma, colon cancer, esophageal cancer. Thyroid cancer I feel is the most common,” Sabol said.

The retiree who has been employed by a Department of Energy covered facility like Brush Wellman will need to be screened and be diagnosed with an approved illness to qualify for the benefits card.

In northern Ohio, there are many covered facilities under the Department of Energy, in addition to the plant in Luckey. They include the Brush Beryllium plants in Elmore, Cleveland and Lorain. Other in the Cleveland area are Du Pont- Grasselli Research Lab, Harshaw Chemical Co., Horizons Inc., McKinney Tool and Manufacturing Co. and Ajax TOCCO Magnethermic.

In Luckey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a $240 million cleanup of the former beryllium production facility. It is estimated that the cleanup on the 40-acre site will be completed in 2029. Cleanup started in 2018.

In 1942, a magnesium processing facility was built at the corner of Gilbert and Luckey roads. Brush Wellman operated the site for beryllium production from 1949-57. The site was closed by 1960.

Initial investigation for the cleanup began in 1974 with with a contractor beginning work in 2016. In 2006, the Corps of Engineers began addressing the beryllium, lead, radium and uranium found in the soils.

Sabol recommended starting the benefit research with the Majestic Home Care website, www.majesticcare.com, or send her an email directly at [email protected] If a call seems necessary, she recommended 330-591-7008, or the Department of Labor at 800-861-8608, which will answer at the Portsmouth Resource Center for the U.S. Department of Labor.