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Lawsuit Filed Against Nuclear Contractor

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 10:14am
Associated Press

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed involving a 2011 accident at an eastern Idaho nuclear facility that exposed 16 workers to plutonium.

Jodi Stanton, the wife of an exposed worker, filed the lawsuit in federal court, the Post Register reported (http://www.postregister.com/node/56654).

She contends the couple's home might have been contaminated with radioactivity because the company withheld information or offered false information about her husband's medical condition following the accident.

The lawsuit targets Battelle Energy Alliance, the company contracted by the government to operate the Idaho National Laboratory. It seeks an undisclosed amount in damages.

"INL's general counsel has not yet received this lawsuit and so the company cannot comment on its claims," said INL spokeswoman Nicole Stricker in a statement.

Ralph Stanton and Brian Simmons in September 2013 sued the U.S. Department of Energy under the Freedom of Information Act, claiming they were wrongly denied documentation about the accident in which they were exposed to plutonium.

Previously that year, they filed a public records request asking the U.S. Department of Energy for documentation relating to the accidental exposure, including security video of the event.

In the lawsuit, the men contend the federal agency wrongly denied them access to the video because it erroneously determined it wasn't an agency record but was instead the property of a private contractor. They've asked a federal judge to force the Department of Energy to turn over all video related to the Nov. 8, 2011, plutonium release.

The accident happened in a building that once housed a nuclear reactor. Workers had been taking plutonium fuel out of storage when they came upon radioactive materials held in two containers, each marked with a label stating the containers were damaged.

After talking to supervisors, workers removed the wrapping on one of the containers and a radioactive black powder spilled out. The workers had on lab coats and some had gloves, but none had respiratory gear or other protective clothing, according to a report released in 2013 by the Department of Energy.

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