New estimates by EWG Action Fund show that roughly 3,000 people in South Carolina have died from asbestos-related disease since 1999. Many of those who died may have worn the uniform.
More Than 400,000 Vets Live in South Carolina For immediate release: September 21, 2015 Washington, D.C.— New estimates by EWG Action Fund show that roughly 3,000 people in South Carolina have died from asbestos-related disease since 1999. Many of those who died may have worn the uniform. Veterans are some of the hardest hit, because the U.S. military used to use...
More Than 400,000 Vets Live in South Carolina
For immediate release: September 21, 2015
Washington, D.C.— New estimates by EWG Action Fund show that roughly 3,000 people in South Carolina have died from asbestos-related disease since 1999. Many of those who died may have worn the uniform.
Veterans are some of the hardest hit, because the U.S. military used to use asbestos widely for, among other things, fire-proofing ships and tanks.
While veterans make up just eight percent of the nationwide population, they account for about 30 percent of people who contract mesothelioma – an extremely painful and always-fatal form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, stomach and other organs.
South Carolina is home to nearly 420,000 former servicemen and women, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or about 1 out of every 11 residents, making it likely many of those currently battling asbestos-related disease are themselves veterans.
“Unfortunately for those South Carolina veterans suffering from asbestos-related disease, some in Congress are pushing legislation designed to delay and deny compensation to those who are sick,” Heather White, EWG Action Fund executive director, said.
The bill, the so-called FACT Act (H.R. 526), would deplete dwindling trust funds set aside to compensate victims of asbestos disease. As well, it would require public disclosure of victims’ personal information such as medical records and partial Social Security numbers, placing these veterans and others at heightened risk of identity theft.
Officials of the asbestos trusts estimate that complying with the bill would require up to 20,000 additional hours per year at each trust – a burdensome and expensive mandate that would inevitably slow the processing of claims and distribution of payments.
The FACT Act is championed by a number of multinational corporations such as Koch Industries, Honeywell, Nationwide Insurance and Allstate. Together these companies and their political action committees have spent millions of dollars lobbying and contributing to members of Congress to corral support for the so-called FACT Act.
Among the organizations that oppose the bill is the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the International Association of Firefighters, among many other groups.
Earlier this year, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. voted for the FACT Act during a markup in the House Judiciary Committee. According to federal campaign contribution records reviewed by EWG Action Fund, Gowdy has accepted nearly $200,000 since 2010 from political action committees established by asbestos companies and their trade associations.
The FACT Act could come up for a vote on the House floor in the next couple of weeks. The Senate has yet to act.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sits on the Senate judiciary panel, giving him a unique opportunity to stand up for his fellow veterans in the state and the rest of country and oppose this anti-vets, pro-asbestos bill.
“Senator Graham has been a champion for veterans during his distinguished career, and understands better than most in Congress the sacrifices his fellow veterans have made during their service to our country,” White said. “Those who have become ill from asbestos exposure while wearing the uniform have the right to fair compensation without having to maneuver through legal roadblocks erected by big asbestos corporations.”
The shipbuilding and textiles industries in South Carolina have also relied heavily on asbestos over the years.
EWG Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that is a separate sister organization of the Environmental Working Group. The mission of EWG Action Fund is to protect health and the environment by educating the public and lobbying on a wide range of environmental issues. Donations to EWG Action Fund are not tax-deductible.