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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 11:38am

Lawsuit Claims Secrecy In Nuclear Plans

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has announced that it's suing the US Department of Energy over a federal loan guarantee program to build two near nuclear reactors in Georgia.

Officials from the federal agency awarded $8.33 billion in February to Southern Company to build two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

Officials from the environmental group have been trying to block the construction of these two reactors since 2006 and say their attempts for information about the program have not been taken seriously.

The lawsuit claims that the DOE has missed deadlines for requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and has redacted significant portions of the reports they have provided.

"This is too large a sum of taxpayer money being spent on too risky a project for there to be this much cover-up and secrecy," says Stephen Smith of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "If this is a good business deal... then it would withstand the scrutiny of some sunshine."

A DOE spokeswoman told GPB the agency is committed to transparency but legally cannot reveal confidential information.

"For those members of the public that have requested a copy of the conditional loan commitment for the Vogtle project, the Department's Loan Program has provided a copy with the appropriate redactions to protect business sensitive details," says the agency's Ebony Meeks. "With each FOIA request, the Department conducts an analysis to determine what information is legally allowed to be released."

Taxpayers would be on the hook for billions of dollars if Vogtle defaults.