Worker Alienation and Compensation at the Savannah River Site

Co-author Steve Wing and I have published Worker Alienation and Compensation at the Savannah River Site in the journal New Solutions. This crossover article speaks to practitioners, workers, as well as scholars studying exposure and compensation for workers at nuclear weapons plants. 

The nuclear weapons Savannah River Site (SRS) been designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous Superfund Site, and the health repercussions for its workers have been quite severe, so severe that the United States Department of Energy provides lump-sum compensation to plant workers who demonstrate exposure. But as we explain in this paper, those exposures are not always officially documented, making it difficult for workers, especially those who worked as temporary contractors, to get compensation now. Those who we interviewed felt alienated from their employers by the secrecy and elusive protocols that they struggled to make sense of.

We suggest here that overcoming these challenges requires data collection and analysis of exposure data that is not reliant upon the same corporate operators who profit from plant operations. Further, we suggest that such plants reconsider their practice of isolating workers from the risky samples that they collect, and findings of contamination.