Congressman Scott McInnis has agreed to co-sponsor legislation that would make it easier for former Rocky Flats employees to be compensated for illnesses resulting from radiation and other chemical exposures on the job, his office announced Friday.
The announcement was made in the midst of a petition drive conducted by Craig resident and former Rocky Flats employee George Barrie, who worked at the nuclear weapons plant in the 1980s. Barrie was petitioning to get McInnis to sign onto the bill that reforms the Energy Employees Occupation Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000.
The bill would take the power out of states' workmen compensation programs, and give the authority to the Department of Labor. The change, supporters say, would make it easier for a person like Barrie, who currently receives no medical compensation, to be reimbursed. U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, who cosponsored the bill, said it was important legislation for former Rocky Flats employees trying to be compensated, and said it was a "priority" of his.
"As we work to have Rocky Flats cleaned up and closed, we also need to take care of the people who worked there and at similar sites," Udall said in a press release last week.
George Barrie, who has been diagnosed with 26 different illnesses, which he attributes to exposure to radiation at Rocky Flats, was concerned that Udall's fellow congressman McInnis had not yet signed onto the bill. But Barrie and his wife, Terrie, received a call at their home in Craig Friday from McInnis' office saying that the congressman would cosponsor the bill.
"We're very happy about this," Terrie Barrie said Friday.