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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 22, 2009

National Day of Remembrance honors former nuclear weapons workers

In honor of the newly designated Cold War Patriots National Day of Remembrance, which is Friday, Oct. 30, the Former Worker Medical Screening Program will hold two open houses in the days preceding the day of remembrance.

The program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and based at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is hosting the events to publicly recognize and commemorate former nuclear weapons workers who served their country by building and maintaining nuclear forces during World War II and the Cold War.

--Ames Laboratory former workers will be honored at an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave. in Ames.
-- Line 1, Division B, Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant former workers from the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant will be honored on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Machinists Union Hall, 16452 Highway 34 in Middletown.

Both events will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a public comment period at 11 a.m. The open houses will offer former workers an opportunity to schedule a free medical screening. In addition, former workers or survivors may sign affidavits for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, which provides compensation to those who have become ill as a result of work at atomic weapon facilities.

More than 700,000 Americans have worked from 1942 to the present day to maintain the nation's nuclear deterrent. In the process, many former workers have become ill from radiation or toxic exposures.

"We are extremely pleased the U.S. Senate unanimously designated Oct. 30 the Cold War Patriots National Day of Remembrance to recognize nuclear weapons program workers," said Laurence Fuortes, M.D., UI professor of occupational and environmental health and director of the Former Worker Medical Screening Programs. "These patriots paid a high price for their service, some sacrificing their health and some losing their lives, as a result of their often unbeknownst exposure to beryllium, asbestos, uranium, thorium, radiation and other hazardous materials."

Fuortes said that it was important to gather former workers, their families and interested persons to publicly honor the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have served their nation by building its nuclear defense.

"While the nation can never fully repay these patriots for their sacrifice, it is important that we recognize their historical contributions," Fuortes said.

PHOTO: For a high-resolution photo of Laurence Fuortes, contact Hannah Fletcher at 319-384-4277 or

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACTS: Laurence Fuortes, Former Worker Program, 866-282-5818,; Hannah Fletcher, 319-384-4277,