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On December 7, 2000, the President issued Executive Order 13179 (65 FR 77487) [180 KB (4 pages)] which assigned responsibilities to the Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Energy (DOE), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the management and implementation of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA or The Act).
The responsibility for overseeing the radiation dose reconstruction portion of the program was delegated to HHS. HHS enlisted support from one of its agencies, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
In 2001, NIOSH established the Office of Compensation Analysis and Support (OCAS). OCAS became the Division of Compensation Analysis and Support (DCAS) in 2010. The name change reflects the conversion of OCAS from an Office to a NIOSH Division. This action was part of an ongoing project to reduce the size of the NIOSH Office of the Director (OD), which is one of the goals of an OD Management Review begun in September of 2009.
DCAS is primarily responsible for estimating work related radiation exposure (dose reconstruction) for certain workers with cancer who filed claims under Part B of the Act. Part B is a portion of the Act that provides compensation of $150,000 and medical benefits to employees (or their survivors) for illness caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium, and silica during their employment at DOE, its contractor, or subcontractor facilities.
DCAS is responsible for:
- Developing methods to estimate worker exposure to radiation (Dose Reconstruction),
- Developing scientific guidelines to determine the likelihood that an employee’s cancer is related to their occupational exposure to ionizing radiation (Probability of Causation),
- Establishing a process for adding classes of employees to the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC), and
- Providing staff support for an independent Advisory Board (Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health).
In response to amendments to the Act, DCAS also developed and updated a Report on Residual Radioactive and Beryllium Contamination at Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) Facilities and Beryllium Vendor Facilities.
More information on our responsibilities under the Act can be found on the Responsibilities under the Act (Advisory Board, Agency, and Contractor) page of our website.
After a claim is filed under the Act, DOL determines if the employee worked at a covered facility during a covered time period and has a qualifying health condition. If the health condition in the claim is cancer, DOL sends the case to DCAS for dose reconstruction. Dose reconstruction is the scientific process of estimating a worker’s past exposure to radiation. The basic principle of dose reconstruction is to characterize the occupational radiation environment workers were exposed to using available worker and/or workplace monitoring information. Dose reconstruction requires extensive reviews, evaluations, and assessments of the dose on an individual case basis. Although some dose reconstructions are straightforward, others are complex due to (1) missing, non-interpretable, or incomplete records; (2) a variety of exposure conditions; and/or (3) variable work assignments.
DCAS uses various dose reconstruction techniques to account for these factors, depending on the nature of the exposure conditions and the type, quality, and completeness of data available to characterize the environment. DCAS evaluates all appropriate worker and workplace radiation monitoring data needed to complete dose reconstructions. To retrieve workers’ individual monitoring data, DCAS sends requests to DOE. Although personal monitoring data is preferred, sometimes this data is unavailable, incomplete, or of poor quality. When necessary, DCAS conducts data search and capture activities to locate additional information. Interviews with current and former workers are also sometimes used to better understand a facility’s operations and radiation monitoring practices.
Technical documents called Site Profiles (describe a specific work site), Technical Basis Documents (focus on a specific aspect of the work site), and Technical Information Bulletins (focus on specific technical issues or procedures for estimating radiation exposure) are also used to ensure that doses are reconstructed in a uniform and scientifically defensible manner. Claimants have an opportunity to participate in a phone call to discuss the energy employee’s work history. In cases where radiation exposures in the workplace environment cannot be fully characterized based on available data, default values based on reasonable scientific assumptions are used as substitutes. DCAS’ dose reconstruction methods consistently give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant whenever there is a question or uncertainty about the amount of radiation exposure the worker may have received.
To ensure that the methods and guidelines used in dose reconstruction by DCAS are as sound as possible, an independent Advisory Board reviews and comments on the validity and quality of DCAS dose reconstructions and methods and technical documents.
Probability of Causation and NIOSH-IREP
DCAS returns the case to DOL when the dose reconstruction is completed. DOL uses the energy employee’s personal characteristics, employment, medical information, and dose reconstruction results developed by NIOSH to calculate the probability or likelihood that the cancer or cancers were related to workplace exposure to radiation. If the probability of causation, at the 99% confidence interval, is 50% or greater, the claimant(s) receives compensation of $150,000 and any medical costs associated with the cancer since the time the claim was filed.
DOL uses a computer software application NIOSH developed in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute, called the Interactive RadioEpidemiological Program (NIOSH-IREP) to calculate the probability a cancer was caused by a person’s radiation dose. DCAS is responsible for maintaining and updating the NIOSH-IREP software and the scientific elements (cancer risk models) that it uses. The NIOSH-IREP software is available for anyone to use on the DCAS public website.
Special Exposure Cohort (SEC)
Employees who are members of the SEC that was established by the Act are compensated without the completion of a radiation dose reconstruction or determination of the probability of causation. To qualify for compensation as a member of the SEC, an employee must meet specific requirements (e.g., must have at least one of 22 “specified cancers,” and have worked for a specified time period at one of the SEC sites). Congress also allowed for additional classes of employees to be added to the SEC. Classes of employees and work sites are considered for addition to the SEC through a petition process. DCAS developed regulations that establish the procedures for adding classes of employees to the SEC.
DCAS’ role in the SEC petition process is to receive and evaluate SEC petitions, determine whether the petitions meet the minimum requirements for review and evaluation, and provide a report on the SEC petition evaluation to the Board and petitioners. The Board makes recommendations concerning additions to the SEC to the Secretary, HHS, and the Secretary considers this advice in making her decisions. DCAS posts petition information on the DCAS public website. DCAS’ SEC Petition Counselor and a NIOSH Ombudsman provide advice to those who wish to submit an SEC petition. DCAS also conducts outreach meetings and workshops for claimants, advocates, consultants, and the public in order to promote a better understanding of the SEC petition process.
Residual contamination is radioactive material or beryllium that remains at a work site after activities related to nuclear weapons production have stopped. If NIOSH identifies a facility as having residual radioactive contamination, employees (or their survivors) who worked at that facility during the period of residual contamination become eligible to file a claim under the Act, even if they did not work during the covered period. Radiation doses from residual contamination are usually much lower than those received during the covered period.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Pub. L.107-107; Section 3151(b)) required that NIOSH submit, with the cooperation of the Department of Labor and Department of Energy, a report on whether or not significant contamination remained in any atomic weapons employer facility or facility of a beryllium vendor after the facility discontinued nuclear weapon production activities. NIOSH defines significant contamination as contamination in excess of those found in current occupational radiation protection, surface contamination values.
NIOSH issued the original report, “Report on Residual Radioactive and Beryllium Contamination at Atomic Weapons Employer Facilities and Beryllium Vendor Facilities,” in November 2002 and updated the report in October 2003. The Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Pub. L. 108-375; Section 3169) required that NIOSH submit an additional update to the report in December 2006. The report was updated again by NIOSH in October 2009 and August 2011.
More information on residual contamination can be found on the FAQs: Residual Contamination page on our website.