Greenpeace Says DHS Stymied Pursuit of Docs on Chemical Facilities

(CN) – Greenpeace claims in court that the Department of Homeland Security is unlawfully withholding unredacted documents related to chemical facilities the government has deemed a high-level risk.

In a complaint filed March 16, the environmental organization  says that it has been seeking the documents to, among other things, confirm the department’s contention that since the federal Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard was enacted, some 1,600 facilities have been removed from the “high risk” classification.

Greenpeace says that after waiting a year for a response from DHS, the department provided it with a 123-page document in which most of the pertinent information was redacted.

The agency claimed the redacted information was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, the complaint says.

Greenpeace filed an appeal claiming a list of non-high risk chemical facilities do not fall under the exemption for information compiled for law enforcement purposes or information what may expose the public to harm.

After DHS dismissed Greenpeace’s appeal, an administrative law judge reversed the department’s decision, ordering it to respond to the records request in-full.

Six months later, Greenpeace says, it received another response from DHS, but once again, a great deal of the information was redacted.

In response, the administrative law judge dismissed the greens’ appeal without prejudice so that they could take the issue to federal court.

Greenpeace is asking the court to declare DHS in violation of the FOIA, and an order requiring the department to finally produce the requested documents without redactions.

It is represented by Scott Nelson of the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C.

A representative of the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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