For eight years, workers at the Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Co. in Fort Wayne, Ind., turned short, stubby chunks of uranium into long rods to fuel atomic bombs. They melted the uranium billets in a furnace, extruded it into long rods, and swept up the radioactive dust with a broom.
According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Mary Brandenberger, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor and its Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program is looking for individuals who worked at Joslyn between 1944 and 1952. "We want to make sure those affected are taken care of," she says.
The federal program pays the medical bills for workers sickened by their exposure to radiation and can compensate them up to $250,000.
But finding the workers isn't easy because Joslyn and the site have changed hands several times. The site, at 2400 Taylor St., is now operated as Valbruna Slater Stainless.
There are four other sites in Indiana where workers were exposed unknowingly to radiation: The Dana Heavy Water Plant in Newport, the General Electric plant in Shelbyville, American Bearing Corp. in Indianapolis and the Chemistry Building and Locomotive Lab at Purdue University, where nuclear physics research was conducted from 1942 to 1946 as part of the Manhattan Project.
The site in Fort Wayne has areas that are still radioactive and awaiting cleanup by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, known as FUSRAP. The Corps' cleanup goal is to make the site safe so that if the buildings are torn down decades from now, no one will be exposed to radiation.
Officials at the Valbruna site say the property has deed restrictions to ensure it can never be used for playgrounds or homes.