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Veterans Still Seeking Benefits Fifty One Years after Radiation Exposure

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Meriden, CTA mid-air collision in 1966 during a military refueling exercise has provided the foundation for a disability claims lawsuit against the US Department of Defense brought by former service personnel who assert exposure to radiation.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

In a report by the Associated Press (AP) and published by the Record-Journal (10/04/17) out of Meriden, Connecticut, it’s been revealed that a B-52 Bomber and a refueling plane collided with one another during a routine mid-air refueling on January 17, 1966. The mishap occurred near the southern Spanish village of Palomares.

A total of seven (of eleven) crew members lost their lives in the mid-air collision, but there were no casualties on the ground when four US hydrogen bombs were released and fell to the ground, when the two aircraft collided,.

While the bombs themselves did not detonate, two of the detonators employed to trigger the bombs went off, scattering a total of seven pounds’ worth of highly radioactive Plutonium 239 across the landscape below.

With highly classified weaponry now on the ground, 1,600 service personnel were dispatched to retrieve the weapons. In so doing, say plaintiffs, they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation for weeks if not months at a time while actively engaged in the recovery process.

Service personnel who claim adverse health issues from the radiation exposure have been fighting for benefits ever since. On Tuesday, students of Yale Law School filed a denied disability lawsuit on behalf the Connecticut chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America and Anthony Maloni, an ex-serviceman from Agawam, in Massachusetts.

Now 72, AP reports that Maloni was 21 when he was assigned to Palomares to participate in the recovery effort. Maloni subsequently developed psoriasis, eczema, alopecia, bronchitis, high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease. Court documents also describe Maloni as suffering from excruciating migraine headaches.

Maloni alleges his health issues are due to frequent exposure to radiation stemming from that 1966 incident.

AP reports that veterans who became ill from their role in the Palomares recovery have been fighting the US Department of Defense for years in an effort to obtain disability benefits. However, their claims have been consistently denied. AP reports that for five decades, the US Department of Defense has refused to release medical records, testing results and other information that would support claims for disability benefits.

The denied disability lawsuit is an effort to compel the Defense Department to release those records under the federal Freedom of Information Act, as well as results from urine samples and other environmental testing data.

“Palomares veterans have waited decades for even basic information about the medical risks that prolonged exposure to radioactive plutonium dust carries,” said Patti Dumin, president of the Connecticut State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, in comments to AP. “They cannot wait any longer. The Pentagon owes them answers.”

The denied disability lawsuit also asserts the United States Air Force failed to protect their charges from radiation poisoning, and failed to warn them about the potential danger.

The lawsuit was filed October 2 in federal court in Connecticut. There was no case information available at press time. The US Defense Department would not comment on pending litigation.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

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I filed an appeal over 5 years ago and have also instituted a congressional investigation into why the Air Force has not responded to my request for service connected benefits due to daily nuclear exposure while performing Minuteman Missile Maintenance at Minot AFB, ND. My nuclear access was suddenly revoked 1 year before my discharge with no reason given.

After brain surgery to remove a meningioma, the loss of most of my teeth, and frequent migranes, tinnitis, and hearing loss, at 75, I'm appealing for legal assistance before I die.

Posted by

on
I FILE A CLAIM BASED ON WHEN I WAS IN ADVANCE TRAINING (JOB TRAINNING). I REQUESTED MY RECORDS FROM BASIS TRAINING ADVANCE TRAINING. THE DEPARTMENT OF RECORD " SENT BASIS TRAINING RECORDS WITH NO ENTRIES OF SICK CALL IN BASIS OR AIT TRAINING. I KNOW THAT SOME RECORDS DESTROYED IN A FIRE. THE WRONG FOR NOT GIVING ME A COPY.

I NEED THE HELP OF LAWYER OR ADVOCATE PLEASE. I'M 60 YEARS OLD AND COUNTING.

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