Judge Rules Sandia Landfill Pollution Can't Be Secret

October 22, 2008

A New Mexico state district judge has ruled that a report on groundwater pollution from a mixed-waste landfill at Sandia National Laboratories is a public record that must be disclosed.

New Mexico's Environment Department had gone to court in fall 2007 to keep the document secret, claiming executive privilege. The report had been produced by TechLaw, a consulting company. The state had sued the Albuquerque-based advocacy group Citizen Action last fall to keep it secret.

"Citizen Action countersued and accused the agency of violating open-meetings and open-records laws," the Associated Press reported.

"Judge Daniel Sanchez, in a decision filed Oct. 7, said the report did not constitute 'thought processes' and was a public document under the Right to Inspect Public Records Act," the AP wrote. "He also ruled that nondisclosure of the report wasn't justified by countervailing public policies or executive privilege."