NRC management of FOIA requests puzzling experts via Enformable

In October 2014, I participated in a meeting with Dave Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, Lawrence Criscione (who works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but was participating in the meeting as a private citizen), Tim Judson of Nuclear Information Research Service, Jim Riccio of Greenpeace, Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear and the NRC Staff. During that meeting each of the participants presented their concerns with how the NRC was interpreting certain FOIA rules. My particular concerns that I presented at that meeting pertained to documents released relating to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

After that meeting, a group of participants (Lochbaum (Chairman), Judson, Riccio, Gunter, and Hixson) determined to form an official committee to interface with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on FOIA-related activities. That is how in December of 2014 the Freedom of Information Team (FIT) came into being.

On July 31st, 2015, I emailed Dave Lochbaum about a FOIA request that I hoped he would submit for me.

I had come across some information from Kenji Tateiwa, who is the Nuclear Power Programs Manager at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility which operated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Tateiwa was in Tokyo in the early days of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, translating TEPCO press releases from Japanese to English, meeting with the EU delegation and the NRC. He was also present at a very important meeting on March 27th in Tokyo between NISA, INPO, and the NRC. He participated in the IAEA Preliminary Fact-Finding visit to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in April 2011 and May 2011. In June 2011 he was at the private residence of U.S. Ambassador Roos trying to reinforce ties, and in August he was aiding the INPO-led support team at Fukushima Daiichi. By September 2011, Tateiwa was transferred to the TEPCO office in Washington D.C.

I felt that there was much that the public could learn and benefit from a better understanding of what Tateiwa knew and when and what he relayed to the NRC and when, so I asked Mr. Lochbaum to FOIA for all communication and materials transmitted between Mr. Tateiwa and any member of the NRC.
Dave requested that the NRC not limit the scope of the FOIA request and to make all documents requested available. This morning he also sent an email to Hubert Bell, Inspector General of the NRC, asking him to look into potential NRC staff wrongdoing by not releasing some, if not all, of these records in response to prior FOIA requests.

Mr. Lochbaum’s concerns are that either the NRC program office is lying now about the inventory of unreleased records to/from Mr. Tateiwa in their possession, or that the NRC violated federal FOIA law by failing to release some or all of these records in response to numerous prior FOIA requests.

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