A veteran who previously spoke to Breitbart News about being stonewalled by the Department of Defense on his Freedom of Information Act requests has now filed a lawsuit to get information about toxic contamination at Fort McClellan, by which hundreds of thousands of veterans may have been exposed.
Raymond Pulliam – a 53-year-old veteran – had to retire in 2012 due to health issues that he thinks were caused by toxic chemicals he was exposed to during his basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama. As Breitbart News previously reported, Pulliam “has sought information about Fort McClellan’s chemical contamination from the Department of Defense since last year, but his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has gone unanswered.”
According to the complaint, Pulliam, the Plaintiff, is suing the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Justice “in failing to provide Plaintiff with all non-exempt records responsive to his FOIA requests sent to each of these federal agencies, seeking records regarding their investigation into toxic contamination at former U.S. Army base Fort McClellan.”
Pulliam’s case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia last week and was assigned to Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
“As I stated during my interview for the previous story, I am very frustrated with the tactics used by the DoD, DoJ and EPA to try and do everything in their power not to release the information I am requesting,” Pulliam exclusively told Breitbart News in an emailed statement.
“Prior to the FOIA’s submitted to the DoD, DoJ and EPA I have done several prior FOIA requests to the Army and EPA. Each of those FOIA’s have been resolved in a timely manner,” he explained.
Pulliam outlined in email information he received through previous FOIA requests made to the Army and his frustration with the other agencies:
A document from the Anniston Army Depot showing that they suspect the TCE contamination in the drinking water was caused by the southern industrial area of the Anniston Army Depot. “A drinking water source, the Coldwater Spring (CWS), is located 1.6 miles south of the SIA, where TCE has consistently been detected at approximately 5 μg/L, where 5 μg/L is the federal Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of TCE for drinking water. It is believed that the TCE in CWS may be from the SIA.”
Another document talks about the radiation levels in the Military Police classroom / museum area that Soldiers like me were unknowingly exposed to. “Surface contamination was present next to the concrete apron behind building 3182, Military Police Corps Museum. Concentrations ranged up to 91 pCi/g of cobalt 60 and 55 pCi/g of cesium 137.”
The DoD FOIA request has been active since December 2014. I have tried everything I could think of short of contacting an Attorney to resolve this FOIA. I even contacted Senator Barbara Boxer and requested her assistance. On June 18, 2015, Senator Boxer’s office received a letter from William L Erwin, who is with the Chief Transparency Office. Mr. Erwin wrote in his letter, “The OSD FOIA Office estimates that the completion date for this request is June 30, 2015.”
In regards to the DoJ and EPA, I have called and emailed both agencies several times requesting an update on my FOIA’s. Each time the response I received is it will be resolved within a few weeks.
Pulliam told Breitbart News that he was frustrated because he wasn’t getting any information from these agencies, so he hired attorney Daniel Stotter – of Stotter & Associates LLC and FOIAdvocates – to assist him in getting answers to his requests.
Stotter explained to Breitbart News that Pulliam’s FOIA requests were “seeking documents concerning these agencies’ investigation actions in response to complaints of toxic contamination at former U.S. Army base Fort McClellan, in Alabama, and the Army’s continued failure to address the health impacts to veterans who served for many years at that location.”
“These three federal agency defendants are now being served with the lawsuit, and will then have 30 days to file an Answer with the federal court,” Stotter said, explaining the next step in the lawsuit’s process. “After that, the court will set a schedule for the parties to file summary judgment briefing, where the government has the burden to explain why it has failed to provide the records requested by Mr. Pulliam’s FOIA requests, and must provide all responsive records unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure by one of FOIA’s nine statutory exemptions to public disclosure.”
Delay in FOIA requests has been an often occurrence under the current administration.
One news report from last month noted, “In recent weeks, a trifecta of powerful federal judges, each acting independently, has blasted the Obama Administration’s FOIA delays. It is never good to anger a federal judge. Angering three over the same issue is unprecedented.”
“I felt I have exhausted all other means and had no other choice than to contact an Attorney and file a lawsuit to compel the DoD, DoJ and EPA to release the documents I am requesting,” Pulliam concluded in his statement to Breitbart News.
Previous news reports from Breitbart News and The Washington Times exposed growing concerns about the toxic chemical exposure at Fort McClellan as well as a top government official’s email that some argue suggested putting budget concerns ahead of veteran health issues that were attached to Fort McClellan.