By: Antoinette Bonsignore: January 25, 2012: Truthout
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (Zadroga Act) and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) represent two federal reparatory and remedial compensation programs designed to compensate sickened populations unwittingly exposed to toxins while serving the nation. Both programs are, in part, administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As a long time advocate for sickened cold war era nuclear weapons workers battling the complexities of the EEOICPA, I have come to realize that the burdensome evidentiary hurdles they have faced over the past ten years will similarly burden 9/11 first responders and survivors in their fight to have cancer compensated under the Zadroga Act. If the Zadroga Act becomes bogged down in the search for scientific certainty regarding which 9/11 heroes will be compensated and cared for, we will not only fail to honor these heroes but NIOSH will be repeating the same mistakes that sickened nuclear weapons workers have endured for far too long under the EEOICPA.