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July 20, 2005

ARCHIVE: Yucca Subpoena


A congressional committee subpoenaed the Department of Energy today for documents related to Yucca Mountain. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

PLASKON: E-mails between US Geological Survey scientists in 1998 indicate false data may have been used to determine that nuclear waste wouldn't be exposed to ground water. Those E-mails released this year sparked ongoing investigations by the FBI, Inspector General, and congress. Subsequent testimony revealed those scientists continued to work on Yucca Mountain as recently as March this year.

LIST: From a perception stand-point it probably doesn't look good.

PLASKON: Former Governor and Nuclear Energy Institute lobbyist Bob List says while it doesn't look good, he's confident the Yucca Mountain project will survive the multiple investigations. Part of keeping it alive is maintaining a tight reign on information, specifically information that was requested by congressman Jon Porter's Committee on Government Reform four months ago.

LIST: I think it is kind of a contest between the executive authority and the congressional authority. The Department of Energy is willing to release those documents on a confidential basis and not worry about them being leaked."

PLASKON: Porter issued a prepared statement that the offer of a confidential review of documents is not acceptable.

PORTER: I am extremely disappointed at the Department of Energy but I am not surprised because they have been throwing road blocks at our investigation.

PLASKON: Porter told the Stephens Media in Washington that he is more than disappointed and in fact called it an 'insult to congress' that it might leak the documents. In April, he sent the request as chairman of the Committee on Government reform for all documents and records including correspondence and electronic communications relating to the hiring and reassignment or transfer of certain employees. The DOE would not comment on the request but the Nuclear Energy Institutes Bob List explains why the DOE might be reluctant to continue to release such correspondence.

LIST: They feel that to do so would be to curtail free exchange of ideas among staff that are in the process of formulating the document itself. If so, no one would ever raise any concerns for fear that they would be presented in a way that would make them look like they don't know what they are talking about.

PLASKON: But that's a difficult defense. In an April interview with KNPR a USGS spokesperson said no USGS employees have any expectation of confidentiality in electronic correspondence such as e-mail. Marshals delivered the subpoena from congressman Porter's subcommittee to the DOE. The subcommittee has 3 staff persons working full-time on the investigation.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

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