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Wednesday, November 15, 2006  
Energy Department Faces Lawsuit

By: Phil Hayworth
Published In: Tracy Press

The lawsuit is being filed by an environmental watchdog group that says important documents were hidden from the public that could provide important information regarding our future safety.

An environmental watchdog group Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal district court in San Francisco against the Department of Energy for failing to release requested information.

Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs said the energy department failed to provide documents for three years regarding the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory?s desire to develop ground-penetrating nuclear weapons, the environmental implications of a terrorist attack, a catastrophic accident on the lab?s existing plutonium stockpiles and the Department of Homeland Security?s bio-agent research plans.

?These documents will provide information about the dangers faced by our community from spills, accidents, releases and potential terrorism,? said Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley?s executive director. ?Keeping this hidden does nothing to protect the public.?

But the lab was unaware of the lawsuit and refused to comment, according to spokesman John Bellurdo.

The suit also asks the judge to issue a court order appointing a special counsel to investigate the energy department?s ?pattern of failing to comply,? said CAREs staff attorney, Loulena Miles.

The special counsel could determine whether disciplinary action in the case is warranted, she said.

The energy department is poised to launch ?Complex 2030,? the agency?s blueprint for revitalizing U.S. nuclear weapons design and production capability, Miles said.

The government is proposing a major transformation of nuclear programs as well as considering housing biological agents at the Livermore Lab?s main site and Site 300, a bomb test site just one mile from Tracy?s city limits.

The energy department will hold meetings regarding the plan from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Tracy Community Center, 300 E. 10th St. The department also seeks public comment on future activities at Livermore Lab and other sites in the nuclear weapons complex.

But Miles said the department?s refusal to release vital information at this time ?makes it impossible for the public to meaningfully comment on these plans.?

Tri-Valley CAREs brought similar lawsuits against the energy department in 1998 and 2000.

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