TACOMA, Wash. (CN) – Bowing to a request from the FBI and the U.S. Nuclear Security Administration, a federal judge ordered Kitsap County, Wash. not to release information about nuclear accident response training at the home of the Trident nuclear submarine fleet.
The Navy and other federal agencies sued Kitsap County and its Department of Emergency Management on Monday, to stop it from releasing the documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
Glen Milner, a journalist and documentary filmmaker, requested the information in January.
The Navy claims the documents contain national security information.
“Kitsap Emergency Management obtained sensitive and protected national security information from the federal agencies when it participated with other state and local emergency response agencies in various federally administered Nuclear Weapon Accident Incident Training Exercises (‘NUWAIXs’) conducted on Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, in Kitsap County, Washington,” the complaint states. “In connection with these NUWAIXs, participants from state, county and local agencies were provided access to federally protected sensitive national security information on the condition that the information would be used solely for purposes of the exercise, and not disclosed for any other purpose without the consent of the federal agencies.”
Washington state law also exempts security information from mandatory public disclosure, the United States and four of its branches say.
Milner sought documents about how the agencies would respond to a “nuclear weapon accident or incident,” and information about emergency training exercises at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor from July 2013 through May 2015.
Milner asked for all records since Jan. 1, 2012 “regarding the consequences of a radiological accident or similar event at the Naval Base Kitsap Bangor and other U.S. Navy facilities, and emergency responses for such an event.”
The government provided the county with a list of exempt documents and produced some documents with redactions.
After Milner complained, the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office notified the Navy that it would release certain records to Milner and Ed Friedrich, a reporter with the Kitsap Sun, unless the government obtained a court order enjoining the release.
A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24.
Kitsap County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Alex Foster told the Kitsap Sun the county was “still in the process of reviewing and considering what our options are and what we will do next.”
The Navy is represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
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