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pollution prevention

All beryllium workers deserve protection

For Immediate Release: December 9, 1999
For more information: Amy Ryder (216) 861-5200

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 them.

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