Advocate For Workers At Controversial Factory Dies Of Cancer
LARGO - Bob Puccinelli, who was a maintenance worker at a nuclear weapons plant, died Wednesday morning of pancreatic and liver cancer. He was 72. Puccinelli worked 14 years at the former GE Plant, which produced triggers for nuclear bombs. He suspected his exposure to radiation and carcinogenic chemicals caused his disease. In his final months, Bob Puccinelli fought cancer and the government. Congress promised sick nuclear weapons workers medical benefits. The Department of Labor denied his claim, saying Puccinelli couldn't prove his job caused his cancer.Following Channel 8's reports, plant workers, who are also ill, organized and lobbied Congressional staff. Puccinelli was among them. The Largo plant produced nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Built in 1957, the Department of Energy Pinellas Plant in Largo was highly classified. By 2001, the government determined that many of the nuclear weapons workers at 292 plants across the country were developing illnesses related to their workplace.