Reading Room

Tuesday, November 14, 2006  
Livermore Group Files FOIA Lawsuit Against Dept. of Energy

By: Wire Service story
Published In: CBS5 news, Bay City Wire Service


A nuclear weapons watchdog group sued the U.S. Department of Energy in federal court in San Francisco today for allegedly failing to provide documents about activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The lawsuit was filed by Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, or Tri-Valley CAREs.

It accuses the department of violating the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to requests for unclassified documents about nuclear weapons research, biological warfare defense research and security at the laboratory.

The energy department is the parent agency of the laboratory, which conducts nuclear weapons and science research and is managed by the University of California.

The lawsuit says the citizens' group submitted five requests between one and three years ago and no documents have been provided in response to any of them.

The suit charges, "The Department of Energy's failure to produce the requested documents continually undermines Tri-Valley CAREs' ability to inform the public about potential environmental impacts from dangerous programs."

The requests concerned a feasibility study on developing earth-penetrating nuclear weapons; Department of Homeland Security plans for a biological warfare research center at the laboratory; a 10-year plan for the laboratory; and two studies of the effects of a terrorist attack or catastrophic accident on the lab's plutonium stockpiles.

Marylia Kelley, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, said, "Keeping this hidden does nothing to protect the public.

"Instead, it renders us unable to press for changes that will truly safeguard worker and community health and the environment," Kelley said.

John Belluardo, a spokesman for the energy department's National Nuclear Security Administration office in Livermore, said, "It would not be appropriate to comment on the lawsuit until our attorneys have had a chance to study it."

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to respond to requests for documents within 20 days, but allows longer delays in certain situations including "exceptional circumstances."

The lawsuit, assigned to U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins, asks for a court order requiring the department to provide the documents immediately. It also seeks the appointment of a special counsel to look into an alleged practice by the department of withholding information.

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Back to TVC in the news...