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'I Worked There For 22 Years': Former Rocky Flats Employees Miss Out On Medical Coverage

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and Congressman Ed Perlmutter are supporting former workers at the Rocky Flats Plant, a nuclear weapons facility. They are being denied financial help after developing cancer.

Rocky Flats Timeline
1989: EPA Declares Rocky Flats a Superfund Site (credit: CBS)

Bennet and Perlmutter, both Democrats representing Colorado in Congress, have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to reconsider its decision not to allow those who worked there after 1983 as a group to receive medical coverage and other compensation.

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Judy Padilla is one of those who falls into that group. She worked with plutonium daily.

(credit: CBS)

"It makes me feel bitter because I worked out there for 22 years, I supported my country," Padilla said.

(credit: CBS)

Padilla was one of thousands who helped build weapons of mass destruction at Rocky Flats. She developed breast cancer that she is certain is a result of her job. That cancer is in remission now.

RELATED: Officials Optimistic About New Round Of Testing At Rocky Flats

"When you are sick with cancer you want to give up, you don't want to fight any more, you lose heart and you lose faith in your government," she told CBS4's Rick Sallinger.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger interviews Judy Padilla (credit: CBS)

Padilla keeps a scrap book on Rocky Flats that includes people she worked with there who have died, including her husband Charles who had kidney cancer.

Judy Padilla and her husband Charles (credit: CBS)

Now she and others who worked there after 1983 have been told they have been turned down on their appeal for medical coverage and compensation to be added as a group to those who are covered.

ROCKY FLATS SOIL TESTING 6PKG.transfer_frame_492
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Carla McCabe is part of that group. She worked there 17 years and had a large brain tumor.

Carla McCabe (credit: CBS)

"You just hope in the years to come they treat workers better than they treated us at Rocky Flats," said McCabe.

ROCKY FLATS HEARING 5PKG.transfer_frame_337
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Those denied the compensation worked there after the plutonium production ceased, but say they were exposed to it anyway. The government has indicated it will take up individual cases.

Judy Padilla (credit: CBS)

Padilla added she thought she would be taken care of for working at the facility that built the triggers for nuclear bombs.

"I put my health and my life at risk and I feel my government owes me health care at least," said Padilla.

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Speak At The Iowa AFL-CIO Convention
Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. for Colorado Michael Bennet speaks at the Iowa Federation Labor Convention on August 21, 2019 in Altoona, Iowa. Candidates had 10 minutes each to address union members during the convention. The 2020 Democratic presidential Iowa caucuses will take place on Monday, February 3, 2020.(Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

A letter from Bennet and Perlmutter states, "It is important we work to care for all these patriots as they develop cancers and illnesses related to their service to our country."

Ed Perlmutter (credit: CBS)
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