FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2005-064

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General,

State of Connecticut,

 
  Respondent September 14, 2005
       

                                                                                               

            The above-captioned matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #s FIC 2005-038, Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone v. Paul Eccard, First Selectman, Town of Waterford, and FIC 2005-049, Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone v. Edward Wilds, Director, Radiation Unit, State of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection. The matter was heard as a contested case on June 1, 2005, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Pursuant to Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-21j-38, an affidavit of Anthony Jannotta was admitted into evidence after the close of the hearing, without objection.

 

            After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

 

1.  The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1)(A), G.S.

 

2.  By letter dated February 4, 2005, the complainant made a request to the respondent to “provide all correspondence, including letters, notes of telephone conversations and electronic communications, you and your office have received and generated during your service as Attorney General…with regard to (a) reports of cancer incidences among men, women and children in Waterford, East Lyme, Niantic, New London, Lyme, Old Lyme, Groton, Mystic, Salem, Montville, Stonington and (b) the Millstone Power Station and its contribution to cancer incidences in the surrounding area” (the “requested records” or sometimes the “records”).

 

3.  By letter dated February 7, 2005, Special Counsel to the respondent acknowledged the complainant’s request, indicating that his office was reviewing responsive documentation and applicable exemptions, and promising to be “back in touch with you…with a more specific response to your request.”

 

4.  By letter dated February 10, 2005 and filed with the Freedom of Information Commission (“Commission”) on February 14, 2005, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent willfully “failed and neglected to provide any information responsive to such request”, thereby violating the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

 

5.  It is found that, by letter dated February 25, 2005, Special Counsel to the respondent provided a letter and other documents from a Connecticut resident, who was concerned that the Millstone Power Station might cause an increase in breast cancer. This letter also stated: “[t]here are no other  documents responsive to your request.”

 

 6.  It is also found that the Special Counsel to the respondent performed a diligent search, telephoning and emailing the head of the Environmental Protection unit in respondent’s office and at least one other assistant attorney general who had been involved with nuclear safety issues. Because the respondent does not, in general, keep records in his own public office, Special Counsel to the respondent did not initially present complainant’s request directly to the respondent.

 

7.  As set forth at paragraph 2, above, the complainant’s request was initially for records, over the fourteen years that the respondent has served as attorney general, concerning cancer in eleven towns and the possible contribution of the Millstone Power Station to incidences of cancer. At the hearing, the complainant focused more narrowly on telephone conversations the respondent allegedly had individually with distressed parents from the area surrounding the Millstone Power Station, and the possibility that some records resulted from these alleged telephone conversations. The complainant also focused on whether the Public Health and Education unit of respondent’s office had records within the scope of the request. Finally, in its post-hearing brief, the complainant requested the assessment of a civil penalty against the respondent.

 

8.  It is also found, based upon the affidavit described above, that following the hearing, Special Counsel to the respondent personally provided the respondent with a copy of the complainant’s request, set forth at paragraph 2, above. On June 2, 2005, the respondent responded that he had reviewed the request, his files had been searched, and that he did not have any records responsive to the request. Further, the Public Health and Education unit of respondent’s office stated that it had no records within the scope of the request.    

 

9.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., states in relevant part:

 

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

10.  It is found that the requested records are public records, within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

11.  Based upon the finding in paragraphs 5 and 6, above, it is concluded that, following a diligent search, the respondent promptly provided to the complainant all of the requested records which he maintains within his custody and control. Based upon the finding in paragraphs 7 and 8, above, it is further concluded that respondent conducted a supplemental good faith search in response to the more focused, specific inquiries raised at the hearing.

 

12.  It is finally concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S., or any other provision of the FOIA.

 

            The following orders by the Commission are hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

1.      The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

2.  As found at paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, above, the complaint in this matter was dated only six days after the date of the request letter and three days after the date of respondent’s acknowledgement letter. The parties are advised that 1-206(b)(2), G.S., provides that the Commission has the authority to impose civil penalties on complainants who take an appeal “frivolously, without reasonable grounds and solely for the purpose of harassing the agency from which the appeal has been taken….”

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 14, 2005.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission


PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

 

Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone

c/o Nancy Burton

147 Cross Highway

Redding Ridge, CT 06876

 

Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General,

State of Connecticut

c/o Susan Quinn Cobb, Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

PO Box 120

55 Elm Street

Hartford, CT 06141-0120

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2005-064FD/paj/9/19/2005