OAKLAND -- A Livermore nuclear watchdog group has sued the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), accusing the agencies of repeatedly violating the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the complaint, filed Friday at the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Tri-Valley CARES (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) alleges the agencies withheld unclassified documents regarding operations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on five occasions in 2011 and 2012. The requested records included documents related to the National Ignition Facility, the status of special nuclear materials at the lab, worker exposure to hazardous materials and the NNSA's Revised Plutonium Strategy.

The Freedom of Information Act gives federal agencies 20 days to respond to public requests; in each of the group's requests, according to the suit, the information is overdue by between one and two years.

"It's a pattern," said Tri-Valley CARES' staff attorney Scott Yundt. "Most of the documents we've asked for are time critical ... It means the community doesn't get to have the information necessary to make informed public comments."

Tri-Valley CARES has filed five similar lawsuits since 1998 -- all have been successful to some degree, Yundt said. The latest suit seeks a court injunction requiring release of the information, attorney fees and a special counsel to investigate whether there is an "unlawful pattern and practice" by the DOE and NNSA of withholding information from Tri-Valley CAREs.


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National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Al Stotts said the agency would have no comment on the lawsuit. The NNSA's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.