Amy Ryder, Cleveland Area Director for Ohio Citizen Action, released the
following statement today in response to the Department of Energy’s new
rule regarding worker exposure to beryllium:
For the past 60 years, workers in the beryllium and defense industries
have been exposed to dangerous levels of beryllium dust. People exposed
to beryllium dust can develop chronic beryllium disease, an incurable
and often fatal lung disease, and lung cancer.
The Clinton-Gore administration is tap-dancing around the real solution
to ending this brutal disease. Chronic beryllium disease is a
preventable disease that is simply not being prevented.
In September, 1999, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
warned workers that the current federal standard for beryllium exposure
is too high to prevent chronic beryllium disease, yet never took any
action to actually cut workers’ exposure to beryllium.
Now, the Department of Energy has announced their intention to reduce
beryllium exposure level for government workers by reducing the ‘action
level,’ but not reducing the ceiling level, which is the acceptable
exposure level permissible by law.
There are over six-hundred workers in Ohio working for Brush Wellman,
Inc., a Cleveland based company, that are exposed to unsafe levels of
beryllium every day. The new DOE rule does nothing to protect