Des Moines Register 02/03/06 Dateline Iowa By REGISTER STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES Lab workers closer to compensation Former Ames Laboratory workers have overcome the first hurdle in seeking compensation from the federal government for exposure to cancer-causing nuclear materials during the Cold War, Sen. Tom Harkin said Thursday. The Iowa Democrat said the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has agreed to consider a petition requesting that workers exposed to uranium or their surviving families - be eligible for automatic compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. The program, created by Congress in 2000, was designed to compensate workers who were exposed to radioactive and other toxic materials during the Cold War. As of last summer, about 90 former workers or their families had filed claims for compensation. Some former workers have said hundreds might be eligible.