EPA Stopped Keeping Records to Avoid Disclosure in Landfill Case

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rather than inform the public about potentially dangerous substances buried in the ground outside a leading scientific laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in New Mexico deliberately took actions to avoid compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.

An investigation by the EPA’s inspector general discovered the agency’s local office stopped keeping records about the mixed waste landfills maintained by Sandia National Laboratory, one of the nation’s most important national security research centers. Interviews with officials in New Mexico showed that written documents were not maintained, and, in at least one case, unclassified information was intentionally labeled as “confidential”—all with the purpose of not turning over records to Citizens Action New Mexico, a public interest group investigating potential contamination of Albuquerque’s groundwater.
The actions represented not only a violation of EPA’s own policies, but also of federal law.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Region 6 Needs to Improve Oversight Practices (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General) (pdf)


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