Originally published by WKBW Channel 7, “Bethlehem Steel Back in the Spotlight” by Jason Gruenauer, January 25, 2013.
Bethlehem Steel shut its doors in 1983, but its issues persist to this day.
Congressman Brian Higgins continued his fight for former workers on Friday, some who were exposed to radiation while working at the plant. He spoke at a meeting of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, and says the federal government needs to show proof it cleaned up the uranium being rolled at the plant or pay up to those deserving workers.
“The fact of the matter is people have been wronged. They should have been made aware of the exposure, if they were back when it occurred, perhaps precautions could have been made to mitigate the health effects of that,” Higgins said.
In 2010, more than 200 million dollars was paid out to a class of workers employed at the plant from 1949-1952. Now Higgins wants to include all workers who may have been exposed through 1976.
“People unbeknown to them were exposed to something the federal government was responsible for. So it’s really not a question of how much it costs in the end, it’s a question of economic justice,” Higgins added.
Anyone who believes they may have been affected is asked to contact Congressman Higgins’ office. For email and phone listings, head to this site http://higgins.house.gov/contact/.
Meanwhile, just down the road a long standing symbol of Bethlehem Steel has begun to come down. And as crews work on demolition of the administration building, one single protestor remains camped out since last Wednesday, continuing to fight for preservation.
“I just wish someone would step in and give it a reprieve, it deserves it. It is our history, it is our legacy, it is our heritage for Western New York,” protestor John Nowak said.