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Union to Study Health of Stealth Workers at Lockheed

Times Staff Writer

Lockheed Corp. employees who work in classified areas in Burbank soon will be surveyed by their union on whether they have experienced severe health problems due to exposure to chemicals used in top-secret projects.

The survey, which will be conducted by the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, is in response to charges that some workers believed to be assembling Stealth fighter planes have become sick or died from exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Union spokesman Don Nakamoto said employees would be sent questionnaires in the mail, possibly within the next few weeks. He said he and Lockheed had agreed for security reasons not to release the number of employees to be surveyed.

Toxicologist to Study Results

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The results of the survey will be analyzed by an independent toxicologist and an industrial hygienist who will then conduct their own investigation into the complaints, Nakamoto said. Among the candidates being considered are experts at USC and UCLA.

Although federal occupational health inspectors and a Pentagon team have launched dual investigations into the charges, Nakamoto said some employees felt that they had not been asked about their concerns.

“As far as the investigations, they were just looking for certain things,” he said. “We want to be sure that everyone who has a complaint is heard.”

The union represents about 6,500 members at Lockheed’s Burbank plant.

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Employees will be asked which chemicals they work with, and if they have experienced any health problems on the job such as rashes, nausea and fatigue, Nakamoto said.


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