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Saturday, November 04, 2006  
Livermore lab watchdog group sues DOE over information issues

By: Chris Metinko
Published In: San Jose Mercury News

A Livermore-based national laboratory watchdog group filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Energy, alleging failures to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.



Tri-Valley CAREs claims the department has lagged on five different FOIA requests that range between one and three years old.



The five FOIA requests that are subjects of the suit involve unclassified information on the feasibility of developing earth-penetrating nuclear weapons, the environmental implications of a terrorist attack or catastrophic accident on Livermore Lab's existing plutonium stockpiles, the lab's "10-Year Site Plan" and the DOE's bio-warfare agent research plans at Livermore Lab.



Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs' executive director, said the DOE has shown a pattern of noncompliance in the past with FOIA requests. She said her group was forced to bring similar lawsuits against DOE in 1998 and 2000, and that only after filing and pursuing these cases did DOE finally produce documents as required by law.



Along with honoring the five FOIA requests in question, the suit also asks the judge to issue a court order appointing a special counsel to investigate what Tri-Valley CAREs calls DOE's pattern of failing to comply with the law. The counsel would then determine whether disciplinary action is warranted, Kelley said.



The lawsuit also asks for the judge to compel the DOE to respond to future FOIA requests in a timely manner.



DOE officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.



Reach Chris Metinko at 510-763-5418 or cmetinko@cctimes.com.




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