80 Pits Manufacturing Capacity (Department of Energy)

Martin Pfeiffer filed this request with the Department of Energy of the United States of America.
Tracking #

HQ-2019-00934-F

Multi Request 80 Pits Manufacturing Capacity
Due June 14, 2019
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Martin Pfeiffer

To Whom It May Concern:

1) This is a FOIA Request
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Reports, memos, documents, analyses of alternatives, or other records that consider, explain, and justify the arguments and decision to promulgate in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review--and after--an 80 plutonium pit manufacturing requirement by 2030 for the US nuclear weapon complex. In other words, records that would permit me to understand the range of intra-/inter- agency stockholder opinions and arguments as well as the technical, logical, economic, strategic, and political basis for understanding the choice of 80 pits. You may restrict your search for records to the period between and including 01/01/2016 and 05/01/2019. Please also include records relating to the choice of Savannah River as a pit manufacturing site also.

As the FOIA requires please release all reasonably segregable portions of responsive records. If you withhold records or portions of records then please indicate under which exemption you claim to do so and provide me with my options for appeal. If you are not the proper agency for this request then I please forward this request to the proper agency and notify me that you have done so.

2) Fees and Fee Status
I am a PhD student at the University of New Mexico and the information requested is for academic and public education purposes, including my PhD dissertation project, and not primarily for commercial use. Furthermore, I will make responsive records available to the public via my academic publications and presentations as well as on social media and my blog. Please note that you can access my UNM student profile page at the following url: https://anthropology.unm.edu/people/grad-students/profile/martin-pfeiffer.html.

Therefore, as per Sack v. DOD (2016) I qualify for educational institution fee status and ask that you process my request accordingly. In your response please confirm that you will be processing my request under the educational institution fee status. I agree to pay fees up to $30 without additional notice. In the event that there are fees exceeding $30 then please inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

3) Record Delivery and Communications
I hereby request that all records generated by this request be delivered in electronic format via email or, if that is not possible, on CD-ROM if available. If you have any questions or information regarding this request then please do not hesitate to contact me, preferably via email. Please provide an email address through which I can contact you to discuss this request.

You may, and I request that you do so, engage in rolling release of responsive records.

I look forward to receiving your response within the twenty day statutory period. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation and time in this matter.

Regards,
Martin Pfeiffer, MA
Scholar, National Security Studies Program
Graduate Assistant, Department of Anthropology
University of New Mexico

From: Department of Energy

Mr. Pfeiffer,

Please, find attached the interim response letter regarding the above cited FOIA request.
Regards,

Craig E. Greenberg, Esq.
F.O.I.A. Analyst
Central Research, Inc., Contractor
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Office: (202)586-7504

  • SENT - Interim Response - educational - HQ-2019-00934-F.docx

From: Martin Pfeiffer

Hi Mr. Greenberg,

Thank you for your response.

My apologies, I should have drawn the circumference of this request more narrowly considering what all is included in this office. Less work for you and everyone else involved; I appreciate your and the other analysts' patience as I continue to learn this process.

For the purposes of this request you may confine your search for records to the following DOE agencies, programs, institutions, etc: the Savannah River Site; Hanford and Richmond; Oak Ridge; DOE HQ; and any relevant working groups and DOE-DOD committees, etc. Does the DOE HQ office have responsibility for the Nuclear Weapon Council? I have filed a similar request with NNSA directly.

If you would like to talk so that we can narrow this request appropriately then please let me know.

Thank you and have a good week.

Regards,
-marty-
Martin Pfeiffer

From: Department of Energy

Hello Marty,

I wanted to follow-up with you on the above referenced request. Below is a list of concerns that have led me to put the request on hold, pending additional information from you. As soon as I can get some clarification, I'll get moving forward on responding to your request.

1) You reference "2018 Nuclear Posture Review" and "US nuclear weapon complex." These are very broad terms. Could you provide me with specific DOE program offices that you would like searched for references to these terms?

2) You reference "Richmond" in your request. Did you mean to type "Richland?"

3) You ask, "Does the DOE HQ office have responsibility for the Nuclear Weapon Council?" If you are asking our office this as a question, we are only able to conduct searches for your specified search criteria.

4) Lastly, I can assure you that submitting FOIA requests directly to the mentioned field offices and labs (Savanah River, Rich(l)and, Oak Ridge, etc.) would return results to you much more quickly than having the DOE HQ FOIA office handle the entire search. If you'd like to receive your results in the most expeditious manner, HQ can conduct a search of specified program offices, and you can submit separate requests to the various field offices/labs you mentioned. If you would like to proceed as such, please let me know.

I await your responses and will be happy to get moving on this.
Best Regards,

Craig E. Greenberg, Esq.
F.O.I.A. Analyst
Central Research, Inc., Contractor
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585
Office: (202)586-7504

From: Martin Pfeiffer

Mr. Greenberg,

Your message surprised me. My apologies if I have misunderstood but please find below my attempts to answer your questions as I understand them.

Let me start by restating my goal with this request: to acquire those records that will allow me to understand the role of the Department of Energy and its constituent parts in the discussions and justifications that led to the promulgation as policy by the US Government of an 80-pit production capability of the US nuclear weapons complex as the goal for the future. With that written, please find below specific responses to your enumerated points:

1) Nuclear Posture Review and Nuclear Weapons Complex
A) Definitions
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review refers to a specific policy document findable through Google or at the following link: https://dod.defense.gov/News/SpecialReports/2018NuclearPostureReview.aspx

The Nuclear Posture Review is the product of inter-agency cooperative process that obviously includes the Department of Energy since it is responsible for the nuclear weapons complex:

The Nuclear Weapons Complex is a term commonly used by Department of Energy and other US government entities to refer to the assemblage of sites, institutions, facilities, etc. involved in the design, production, maintenance, and retirement of nuclear weapons as well as the management of their environmental, safety, and material legacies. See Woolf and Werner (2018) "The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Overview of Department of Energy Sites." Congressional Research Service. Available here for your convenience, reference, and clarification: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R45306.pdf

B) Where to look
I'm uncertain what you mean by your question regarding where to look for these terms. As per my request: the united states has elucidated as a policy a desire for an 80 pit production capability for the US nuclear weapons complex. What input did DOE have into that process in terms of rationalizing, supporting, and analyzing it? Part of the issue is that, since relevant records haven't been released, it's difficult to know exactly whom to ask. Therefore, in addition to any locations elucidated below, let's ask DOE HQ as well as all ad hoc or permanent working groups, panels, etc. that liaison with the Department of Defense and that were in existence for some period of the date range between and including November 8, 2016 and January 1, 2019. Part of the problem of course is the opacity of the inter-agency process so it would be safer just to have you ping every program office, lab, institution, program office, lunch group, and committee that Department of Energy runs or ran during the previously mentioned period. Unless within the next four business days you'd like to suggest a set of offices, labs, etc., to exclude (or programs and committees to include) let's plan on having you ask everyone in your bailiwick for responsive documents within the previously mentioned time period. Please note that I have pinged the NNSA laboratories separately so you may exclude them from your search.

Alternately, or in addition, were there specific program offices or other DOE entities that you think would be especially appropriate for this request (in addition to the offices I mentioned in my previous email) and would like to suggest now that you have a better sense of what I'm looking for? If it's an issue of having to file ANOTHER FOIA request (which would take months to a year+) asking what DOE components were involved with the 2018 NPR I'd rather just go ahead and ask them all while I'm here now.

2) Thank you for asking. I meant the Richland Office, correct. The point is potentially moot given our provisional decision to ping everybody in your realm but the NNSA labs as per point 1.

3) I hope that I misunderstand because this seems like a highly inappropriate response to my question. To clarify: are you refusing to tell me, as part of us working to set the scope of my FOIA request, whether or not DOE or your office has responsibility for records relating to the Nuclear Weapon Council? And you are claiming that this is because of...policy? May I ask what policy prevents you from sharing this information germane to my request? May I further reference the FBI's Office of Information Policy guidance issued after the OPEN Government Act of 2007, in particular the requirement to forward misdirected FOIA requests to the proper office? Finally, if you continue to refuse to answer the question of if DOE has responsibility for these records under this request then please provide me with the procedures for appeal and to whom I would address them.

4) I appreciate your concern for the expeditiousness of this request and let me see what we decide regarding the scope of whom we are asking. If we can narrow the number of agencies down from "everyone in DOE" then I would be happy to discuss my sending in FOIAs to specific field offices and such. Otherwise I will take you up on your kind offer to have DOE FOIA HQ handle a centralized search.

I have in this message sought to be blunt in describing my reasoning and goals for this request. I would appreciate your help and guidance as we work to find a mutually agreeable understanding of the scope of this request moving forward.

Regards,
Martin Pfeiffer, MA
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
Scholar, National Security Studies Program

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