Uranium, Depleted Health
sincere thanks for publishing the piece by Geraldean Hourigan
[“One Half-Life to Live,” Feb. 5]. My father died in 1990
of multiple myeloma (bone cancer) after working at National
Lead for 10 years during the height of its toxic emissions
of depleted uranium. His diagnosis was a qualifier for benefits
under the federal Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation
Act. For the past two years I have been pursuing this claim
for my mother as his surviving spouse. I never expect to see
any money for her, but I persist to keep the issue active
before our government. When I initially made the claim through
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National
Institute of Safety and Health, National Lead’s records on
my father’s radiation exposure levels were not available;
the remaining plant records had been dispersed to other states,
including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Repeated phone calls to NIOSH did not give a date when the
“dosage reconstruction” would take place, so I contacted Congressman
John Sweeney’s office to intercede. When they received no
response to “congressional inquiries,” I began to realize
the magnitude of the problem. I’m now receiving regular claim
reports from the U.S. Department of Health. Out of 13,641
cases submitted for dosage reconstruction claims under EEOICPA,
the number awaiting a final decision is only 1,215. National
Lead’s Colonie site is not even listed as a site “under development”
for dosage reconstructions by NIOSH.
The saddest thing for me is that my country went to war in
Iraq because of purported weapons of mass destruction, then
proceeded to nuke the place with tons of depleted uranium,
knowing the health effects on civilians and the military.
The residents in the vicinity of the National Lead plant are
justified in their outrage and concern. The Colonie site is
a wound in the body of America, and no one should give up
the pursuit of its healing through public outcry. Please continue
to provide a valuable forum for this issue.
Mary Beth Vought
Half-Life to Live” gave a very interesting overview of the
many community health concerns related to NL Industries’ devastating
radioactive and chemical pollution. There were a few errors
in the article.
The community wants answers about what NL’s toxic emissions
did to them. The 250-plus residents who completed a community-health
survey believe their illnesses and injuries may be
related to NL’s pollution—and are interested in a health study
and assessment to determine if this is the case. While Yardboro
Avenue was heavily contaminated, depleted uranium (DU) pollution
was found well beyond this street adjacent to NL. Soil surveys
found significant DU pollution up to a quarter-mile from the
factory. Unfortunately, no government soil testing has been
done to follow up on physicist Leonard Dietz’s critical finding
that DU particulates were found up to 26 miles away from NL.
The federal health agency, Agency for Toxic Substances &
Disease Registry (ATSDR), in its August 2003 report, found
that NL’s emissions were clearly “a public health hazard to
the community surrounding the Colonie site” while the plant
was operating. Right now, residents are seeking a comprehensive
health study and investigating the possibility of legal action.
“Unfit for Print?” [Newsfront, Feb. 5], we inaccurately reported
that Rensselaer would experience an increased traffic flow
of 60 trucks per minute if the newspaper recycling facility
were to be built there. This is, in fact, what Eric Daillie
told Metroland. However, upon further investigation,
it appears he meant 60 trucks per hour, or one truck per minute.
The Rensselaer City Council’s resolution to reject the project
says a peak day could see about 508 trucks passing through
In “One Half-Live to Live” [Feb. 5], we reported that the
smokestacks on the National Lead plant were 1,000 feet tall.
In fact, the smoke plumes from the stacks were 1,000 feet
tall, not the stacks themselves.
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