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University of Iowa News Release

March 23, 2004

UI Medical Screening Program Phasing Out In Burlington Area

A University of Iowa research team investigating the health of former nuclear weapons workers at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAAP) will be wrapping up its operations by fall 2004.

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it will phase out the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant-Former Worker Program, which has been providing a medical screening program for former nuclear weapons workers since January 2001. The DOE has contracted with the UI College of Public Health to offer medical screenings to former nuclear weapons workers in the Burlington area. Nearly 600 former IAAAP workers have been screened.

The UI research team will hold a public meeting from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 25, at the Best Western Pzazz Motor Inn in Burlington to discuss the phase out of the former worker program. The meeting is open to the public.

To be eligible for the medical screening program, a person must have been a nuclear weapons worker -- on Line 1 or Division B -- at IAAAP prior to 1975. Former workers who believe that they are eligible for a free screening for occupational illnesses such as cancer, asbestosis and chronic beryllium disease may call toll-free at 1-866-282-5818 to schedule a screening prior to September 2004.

"Although the former worker program will be phased out in the Burlington area, the DOE has indicated that former workers will be able to contact the DOE after September 2004 to receive a medical screening," said Laurence Fuortes, M.D., UI professor of occupational and environmental health and principal investigator on the former worker program project. "The DOE is in the process of setting up a toll-free number to call to schedule medical screenings on a case-by-case basis after September."

The Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant-Former Worker Program is one of thirteen former worker programs currently operating nationwide. The program will continue at other sites around the United States. More information about the DOE's former worker programs can be found on its Web site at http://tis.eh.doe.gov/workers.

The phase-out of the former worker program in the Burlington area does not affect claims that have been filed or may be filed with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, a federally funded program to compensate former nuclear weapons workers with cancer, silicosis, beryllium sensitivity or chronic beryllium disease. For more information about this compensation program, which is administered by the Department of Labor, call 1-866-540-4977 or visit its Web site at http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/owcp/eeoicp/main.htm.

A medical screening program for Department of Defense contracted conventional weapons workers also is not impacted by the DOE phase-out and will continue to operate in the Burlington area.

For additional information regarding the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant-Former Worker Program phase-out, call 1-866-282-5818.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The abbreviation for Iowa Army Ammunition Plant is intentionally spelled (by the facility) with an extra "A" -- thus, IAAAP -- to distinguish it from other ammunition plants.

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristina Venzke, 319-335-8494, kristina-venzke@uiowa.edu