Senator Thompson is a strong supporter of the Department of Energy's activities in Oak Ridge. He has pushed for funding for the Spallation Neutron Source, an exciting new facility being constructed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that will once again make Oak Ridge the world leader in neutron science. He has fought against attempts to locate SNS at another laboratory and to slash its funding, and has built strong Senate support for the project over the past several years.
Senator Thompson has also worked to protect the Y-12 plant's critical national security mission and to secure funding for the modernization of its manufacturing facilities. In 1997, he passed an amendment designating the Y-12 plant as a "National Prototype Center," which will help to attract work from outside sources to keep workers' manufacturing skills sharp.
In June 1998, Senator Thompson traveled to Russia to assess the proliferation threat posed by the decline of Russia's nuclear weapons complex, inadequate safeguarding of Russia's nuclear weapons materials, and continued Russian export of various weapons-related technologies. Upon his return, Senator Thompson hosted a roundtable discussion in Oak Ridge to explore ways in which the experience and expertise of Oak Ridge scientists can be utilized to address the global proliferation threat and the specific problems he encountered on his trip.
Senator Thompson has also led the effort to provide fair compensation to workers in Oak Ridge who have contracted illnesses as a result of their service to our nation at one of the DOE facilities located there. In 1997, Senator Thompson called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate reports of unexplained illnesses in Oak Ridge. Although the results of the CDC study were inconclusive, Senator Thompson continued to push the Department of Energy to take action to help workers who are suffering from work-related illnesses. In March 2000, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which Senator Thompson then chaired, held a hearing on this important issue. Along with several of his colleagues, Senator Thompson has introduced legislation to compensate workers who are suffering from an illness linked to exposures received in the course of their work at a DOE facility (S. 2519), and he will continue to push for a fair solution to this matter.
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