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Letter to U.S. Senator Mike DeWine:
Proposed beryllium compensation legislation

May 22, 2000

Senator Mike DeWine
420 Madison Ave., Room 1225
Toledo, OH 43604

Dear Senator DeWine:

I am writing on behalf of Ohio Citizen Action and the Coalition for a Safe Environment. The Coalition is a group of residents, beryllium disease victims, current and former Brush Wellman employees and environmentalists. Together with Ohio Citizen Action, the Coalition represents more than 150,000 people across the state.

We have several concerns about the proposed beryllium compensation legislation and possible compromises that may be reached during 'negotiations' regarding this proposal:

We are strongly opposed to any limits put on an individualís right to sue Brush Wellman.

An ideal compensation plan would not curtail the right of workers to pursue individual suits in addition to compensation from the federal government. We do not view this as 'double-dipping' into compensation for the following reasons:

  1. Since the government allowed this mismanagement and worker endangerment to continue unabated, compensation should be given.
  2. The private corporations who performed the government contracts often knowingly exposed their workers to danger and therefore should not be dismissed of all liability.

Residents living around the Brush Wellman facility should have beryllium exposure testing provided. The proposed legislation should include allocations for testing the residents who have been at risk to exposure. There is evidence that residential areas around the Brush Wellman facility in Elmore are at risk to beryllium contamination. To our knowledge, no exposure testing has ever been performed around the Elmore facility.

Compensation should cover all workers who have beryllium disease as a result of working at U.S. Department of Energy facilities and contracting facilities. Beryllium disease victims who have been diagnosed in the past and those who will be diagnosed in the future should be covered.

Thank you for your time and dedication to this issue. We would like to request a meeting with you so that you may hear from the victims of beryllium disease victims who reside in northwest Ohio. We look forward to working with you and talking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Sarah Ogdahl, Northwest Ohio Program Director
Ohio Citizen Action