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Project on Government Oversight

POGO letter urging Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to restore citizen access to the Department of Energy's web sites

The Honorable Spencer Abraham
Secretary of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20585

Dear Secretary Abraham,

As you recall, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) requested in an October 3, 2001 letter that a few specific maps be removed from the DOE website. POGO had been disturbed when, in researching ongoing security failures at DOE nuclear weapons facilities around the country, we discovered extremely detailed maps that provided virtual target information for all ten nuclear facilities. However, POGO is dismayed that rather than thoughtfully removing specific maps from the web, entire sites have been taken off the internet, apparently with little discretion. Although we realize that these maps are often figures from larger documents, such as Environmental Impact Statements, removing the maps does not necessitate removal of the entire document.

Communities have a legitimate need and right to have information about what goes on in their neighborhoods. Withholding documents such as risk and environmental assessments only serves to create a barrier to real safety and security improvements by impeding meaningful dialogue. Hiding safety and security problems from the public does not make them go away, it leaves communities unable to prepare for and deal with potential problems.

DOE's own Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information guidelines should serve as a model when making decisions about what information to remove from the web. This standard holds that, "information that is expected to have a significant adverse effect on the health and safety of citizens or that serves to significantly increase the likelihood of the illegal production of nuclear weapons or the theft, diversion, or sabotage of nuclear materials, equipment, and facilities should not be freely disseminated" (TG-FSR-1 September 1993). This standard would provide for the removal of the maps that we called to your attention, while at the same time allowing for access to the vast majority of the information that has recently been removed from the DOE's websites and libraries.

I urge you to hold any decision to remove information from the public realm to the highest of standards. Ensure that each item removed is truly a case of increasing national security and that the public interest is not unduly sacrificed. An informed, engaged populace is a necessity in a functioning democratic society and access to government information is paramount to this aim.

While acknowledging that a few select documents, such as those we brought to your attention, may now be deemed too sensitive for general use, the vast majority of the information that was removed had provided needed information to communities and emergency response teams. Please ensure that no information is needlessly removed as your agency reviews the contents of your public libraries and websites and that information that has been unnecessarily removed is returned as expeditiously as possible. Attached is a list of removed sites as provided by Nuclear Watch New Mexico that should be immediately reviewed.

I and a few representatives from other organizations and citizens who rely on the removed information would like the opportunity to meet with you to point out the troubling consequences of DOE's indiscriminate denial of public access to its information. In response to our first letter, we received notification in a letter dated October 4, 2001 that a meeting with us would be added to the schedule. However, this meeting has not occurred and now, more than ever, it is important that we meet to discuss these issues. We will contact your office to set up a meeting.

Sincerely,

Danielle Brian
Executive Director

encl.: list of removed sites

Unavailable DOE sites as compiled by Nuclear Watch New Mexico
http://www.nukewatch.org/nwd/DOEweb.html

DOE Central Internet Database (CID): http://cid.em.doe.gov/
Comments: This site is online. The site had been shut down for an extended period, however it has not yet been determined how much information has been removed, if any. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/20/01.

DOE Defense Programs (DP): http://www.dp.doe.gov
Comments: This site is offline. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

DOE Office of Fissile Materials Disposition: http://www.doe-md.com/
Comments: This site is offline until further notice. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

DOE Nuclear Nonproliferation (NN): http://www.nn.doe.gov/
Comments: This site is offline. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Home page: http://www.lanl.gov/worldview/
Comments: The home page for LANL is online. LANL is the birthplace of the atom bomb and is where the research and development occurred for the two nuclear weapons dropped on Japan in 1945. LANL operations continue to be at the core of nuclear weapons research and development. Public Relations news items are still accessible, but as can be seen from the following list of sub-directories (sub-directories are links to other sites within a web site's home or main page), the majority of sub-directories are now restricted to the public. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Search: http://aha.lanl.gov/
Comments: The search function is no longer accessible to the public. After clicking the link, a prompt appears for a username and password. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL employee directory: http://www.lanl.gov/tools/phone/worldphone.html
Comments: After clicking this link, a message appears stating that the file is missing. This means that LANL has deleted the file from its server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01. Since that time, LANL appears to have changed the page so that it lists possible sites that the user may be looking for. NWNM last accessed this URL on 12/11/01.

LANL online library: http://lib-www.lanl.gov
Comments: The electronic library's home page is currently active, however a great number of documents cannot be downloaded. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

Library search function: http://library.lanl.gov:8001/LOGIN:sessionid=0:entitylanginit=FALSE:entitylang=eng:
entitynoPatron=FALSE:entitylogintry=1:bad=html/authofail.html
:next=NEXTCMD"/CHOOSE:&dbname=LANL_ADV:next=html/LANL_ADV_search.html|
html/simple_search.html
:entityClearLimits=1:entityutyp=guest"
Comments: The search form of the LANL electronic library, which allows users to search by author, document title, or technical document number is active. Clicking the "Submit Search" button yields results, however no documents can be downloaded. Instead, after clicking on a document a message appears stating that "Electronic Reports are unavailable. We regret the inconvenience." This has been changed since 11/29/01, however the user still may not download documents only titles appear. Last viewed by NWNM on 12/11/01

LANL Environmental Restoration Project virtual library: http://erproject.lanl.gov/documents/virtualhome.html
Comments: The Environmental Restoration Project virtual library is the location of LANL's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit as well as documents related to environmental restoration and monitoring activities at LANL. When entering the library, a message appears stating that "** NOTE: Until further notice documents unavailable below must be requested. To request a document call 505-665-6771 or contact the Virtual Library manager. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Strategic Computing Complex: http://www.lanl.gov/projects/asci/scc/index.shtml
Comments: This site currently requires a username and password. It is not accessible to members of the public. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Nuclear Materials Technology: http://www.lanl.gov/orgs/nmt/index.shtml
Comments: The home page for this LANL division is being "redesigned." There are no links. However, it should be noted that some Nuclear Materials Technology division web pages (such as the page for NMT-15) can be accessed. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Bioscience division Home: http://bdiv.lanl.gov:80/
Comments: This site appears to be completely operational. During the week of 11/19/01 to 11/29/01 the majority of this site had no information on it. Typing in an address or clicking on a link yielded a blank web page with the phrase "enter text here." This occurred while the division was in the process of a legally required public review of a proposed biological safety level 3 laboratory. The closure of this web site during that review severely impacted the public's ability to gather information during the review process. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Environment, Safety, and Health Home: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/
Comments: This home page is active, but the majority of its links are either forbidden to the public or have been deleted from the LANL server. Since 11/29/01 it appears as though the navigation bar found at the top of the page has been activated. The main links on this page appear to all be inactive, however. NWNM last accessed this page on 12/11/01.

ESH Group contacts: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/ESH_Group_Contacts.pdf
Comments: A "File Not Found" error occurred, indicating that the file has been deleted from the LANL web site. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Institutional ES&H Performance (ESH-IEP): http://www.esh.lanl.gov/~eshiep/
Comments: This sub-directory is forbidden to public users. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

Operational Integration (ESH-OI): http://www.esh.lanl.gov/orgcharts/ESH-OIO.pdf
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error, indicating that the file has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 12/11/01.

Employee Information: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/employee_handbook.pdf
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. The file has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Cerro Grande Fire: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/cerrogrande/wildfire.htm
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Division Review Committee: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/DRC/DRC.html
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

News Letters: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/newsletter/Newsletter.html
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Science and Technology: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/science_tech/science_tech.html
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Security: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/security/security.html
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Division Management Plans: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/mgmtplans/mgmtplans.htm
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Environmental Surveillance: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/mgmtplans/envireports.htm
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Division Review Committee: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/DRC/DRC.html
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

SWEIS Yearbook: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/mgmtplans/swireports.htm
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This sub-directory has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

ESH Division LIR [Laboratory Implementing Requirements]: http://www.esh.lanl.gov/lir_status.pdf
Comments: This link yields a "File Not Found" error. This file has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

LANL Chemical and Biological National Security Program (CBNP): http://www.cbnp.lanl.gov/cbnp/left.html
Comments: This address yields a "File Not Found' error, indicating that the entire site has been deleted from the LANL server. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Home: http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/
Comments: The NNSA's (a semi-autonomous agency within DOE) home page is online, but the majority of the sub-directories are completely offline or access is limited in nature. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

NNSA Chemical and Biological National Security Program (CBNP): http://www.nn.doe.gov/cbnp/
Comments: The CBNP is the NNSA's biological defense research program. It is believed that at a minimum 9 DOE sites are conducting research in support of the CBNP. The entire CBNP web site is offline. A message error appears stating that the "Server is not responding." The web site may either be removed from public access or may have been Accessed 11/29/01.

NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards: http://www.nrc.gov/ACRS/rrs1/Trans_Let/Tran_Let.htm
Comments: Entering this web address results in a "Page Not Found" error indicating the page has been deleted from the NRC web site. WAND discovered this missing page. Site last accessed on 12/7/01.

Nuclear Regulatory Committee's (NRC) mixed oxide fuel information page: http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NMSS/MOX/
Comments: Entering this web address results in a "Page Not Found" error indicating that the page has been deleted from the NRC web site. Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) discovered this missing page. Site last accessed on 12/7/01.

Savannah River Site Home: http://www.srs.gov/general/srs-home.html
Comments: This home page is active, but all other links except the search function and Savannah River Site employment opportunities are "Forbidden" to the public. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

Search Function: http://www.srs.gov/general/srsearch.htm
Comments: The search function is online, but even the most general search phrases yield no results. It appears that the database is no longer accessible for the public. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/29/01.

DOE West Valley: http://www.wv.doe.gov/index.htm
Comments: Access for this site is restricted. NWNM last accessed this site on 11/30/01.


 

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