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EX-URANIUM WORKERS WIN $20 MILLION SETTLEMENT

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Former employees of a federal uranium processing plant have won a $20 million health-care settlement that will provide them with medical monitoring for the rest of their lives.

A federal judge approved the settlement Thursday for about 4,500 employees and contractors at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fernald plant, about 20 miles northwest of Cincinnati.In addition to the medical monitoring, the settlement created a separate $15 million fund to compensate the workers for emotional distress and attorney fees.

The deal settles a lawsuit filed against the National Lead of Ohio Inc., which operated the plant under a government contract from 1951 through 1985.

The workers said that National Lead deliberately kept secret the health hazards of continued radiation exposure at the plant.

The company denied those accusations in the settlement.

Fernald stopped uranium production for nuclear weapons in 1989. The government then began a cleanup of radioactive wastes that could take 25 years.

The suit was the second against National Lead.

An earlier class-action suit was settled for $78 million, primarily benefiting residents who contended that property values were diminished by fears of radiation contamination.