US nuclear agency sued over public records requests

Apr 6, 2022, 2:17 PM | Updated: 3:42 pm
FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2021 photo, the Los Alamos Study Group takes aim at the U.S. government's p...

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2021 photo, the Los Alamos Study Group takes aim at the U.S. government's plans to ramp up production of plutonium cores for the nation's nuclear arsenal with this billboard near Bernalillo, N.M. A watchdog group is suing the National Nuclear Security Administration over its failure to release public records related to the U.S. government's plans to manufacture key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal. The complaint filed Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in federal court covers more than a dozen records requests made since 2017 by the Los Alamos Study Group. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan,File)

(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan,File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A watchdog group is suing the National Nuclear Security Administration over its failure to release public records related to the U.S. government’s plans to manufacture key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., covers more than a dozen records requests made since 2017 by the Los Alamos Study Group. The nonprofit is seeking more transparency about what it calls one the largest warhead-related programs since the end of the Cold War.

The lawsuit alleges that the agency has a policy and pattern of violating the Freedom of Information Act in a way that “shields its activities and multibillion-dollar plans from public scrutiny and congressional oversight.”

The group believes most of the money authorized for building and operating facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to manufacture plutonium cores for use in nuclear weapons is being wasted.

“What, after all, is NNSA hiding? Why doesn’t NNSA want to discuss its plans openly, legally redacted as necessary?” asked Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

The National Nuclear Security Administration did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions about the complaint or the records requests seeking information on cost overruns, delays and site expansion plans.

Officials for years have pushed for plutonium core production to resume, saying the U.S. needs to ensure the stability and reliance of its nuclear arsenal. The National Nuclear Security Administration has said most of the cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s.

With the modernization project comes more jobs and billions of federal dollars to upgrade buildings and construct new facilities. Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are supportive, but watchdog groups have concerns.

The NNSA is required by law to manufacture no fewer than 80 cores by 2030. While testifying before congressional committees, top officials have acknowledged over the past year that the deadline will likely get missed as construction of the factory in South Carolina is behind schedule by as many as five years and Los Alamos won’t be able to make up the difference.

According to the lawsuit, the records requests involve officials’ public testimony to Congress on plans to increase production, the hiring of new workers and budget estimates. The information sought also pertains to the need to have the factories running around the clock to meet the federal government’s goals.

The lawsuit states that the NNSA has yet to release many of the main planning documents, official studies or reports that the Los Alamos Study Group says are needed to conduct policy analysis, participate in comment opportunities, or otherwise monitor the agency’s activities.

Mello said the plutonium core plans are competing with other NNSA programs for key personnel, equipment, funding and management attention.

“We want a principled, truthful discussion about this program right now — in public and in Congress — before more billions are squandered, more workers are hurt and the environment is damaged further,” Mello said. “For that to happen, NNSA has to reveal its plans as the law requires.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Kevin Nicholson drops out of Wisconsin GOP governor race

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Kevin Nicholson, a business consultant whose campaign for governor in battleground Wisconsin failed to catch on with conservative voters, announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the race five weeks before the Aug. 9 primary. Nicholson, who decided to run for governor after Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson decided to […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Highland Park set tight gun limits long before parade attack

CHICAGO (AP) — In a state with some of the country’s toughest gun regulations and a city that bans semi-automatic weapons, Dana Gordon still feared a mass shooting could happen here. Gordon, a Highland Park resident and an anti-gun violence activist, knew the familiar questions from victims of mass shootings across the country — how […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Tuesday 7/5/2022

Major stock indexes shook off an early slump and ended with meager gains on Wall Street Tuesday as worries about the economy continue to weigh on markets. Oil prices slumped, bringing the price of U.S. crude back below $100 a barrel for the first time since early May. Tech stocks staged a turnaround and ended […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Newmont, ConocoPhillips fall; Moderna, Cowen rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Tuesday: AstraZeneca Plc., down 44 cents to $65.51. The pharmaceutical company is buying drug developer TeneoTwo. Newmont Corp., down $1.46 to $59.71. The gold producer’s stock fell along with prices for the precious metal. ConocoPhillips, down $6.34 to $84.64. Energy stocks fell […]
15 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, July 4, 2022, in Washingto...
Associated Press

Biden to Ohio, spotlighting rescued pensions for millions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking to boost his standing with frustrated blue-collar voters, President Joe Biden on Wednesday will use the backdrop of a union training center in Cleveland to tell workers his policies will shore up troubled pension funding for millions now on the job or retired. Hurt politically by inflation at a 40-year high […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Fans watch at the start of an NFL football game inside AT&T Stadium between the New York Gia...
Associated Press

Cowboys criticized over deal with gun-themed coffee company

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys sparked criticism on social media Tuesday after announcing a marketing agreement with a gun-themed coffee company with blends that include “AK-47 Espresso,” “Silencer Smooth” and “Murdered Out.” The partnership with the Black Rifle Coffee Co. was revealed on Twitter the day after more than a half-dozen people died […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
US nuclear agency sued over public records requests