WNYCOSH would like to thank John Lipsitz and the Lipsitz & Ponterio law firm for their generous donation to WNYCOSH honoring the Linde workers who were exposed to atomic radiation working at the Linde Division of Union Carbide in Tonawanda. Below is the story of the fight to justly compensate an OCAW union member and worker from this plant who died of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of his exposures at work.
“More than twenty years ago, Ralph Krieger and Joe Sebastian called me to see if our office could help one of their union members from the OCAW Local at the Linde Division of Union Carbide, who had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. About twenty-five years earlier, this union worker had been assigned to break up a concrete floor in one of the buildings at Linde previously used to process uranium to make the atomic bomb. The floor was radioactive, a fact documented by a government-funded site survey. Shortly, after we filed a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Board, our client died. We filed another case for his widow claiming that his death was due to an occupational disease. We fought the case for four years at the Board and lost. The Law Judge seemed to concede that our claimant was exposed to radioactive dust particles and that he inhaled them, but he gave credit to the expert testimony presented by the employer and dismissed the opinions of our experts. The judge ruled that we had failed to prove that the radiation caused the cancer.
Fast-forward to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, listing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a covered radiogenic cancer. Fast-forward again to the establishment of a Special Exposure Cohort for Linde workers. The Linde worker’s case ended roughly twenty years after it began with a monetary award to the family under the EEOICPA. This result was in large part due to the belief expressed without reservation by Ralph Krieger and Joe Sebastian that workers at the Linde Division had been sacrificed for the national defense and that their families should not go uncompensated.”
John Ned Lipsitz, Esq.
Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC