FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
U.S. JOINS PADUCAH GASEOUS DIFFUSION PLANT SUIT
AGAINST LOCKHEED MARTIN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States is intervening in a lawsuit against Lockheed Martin Energy Systems for submitting false claims in connection with the operations of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky announced today.
The suit, originally filed in June 1999 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an NRDC scientist and three plant employees, alleges that Energy Systems submitted false claims for millions of dollars while failing to store properly and dispose of radioactive and hazardous wastes. The company operated the plant for DOE from 1984 through 1998.
The suit further alleges that Energy Systems made false statements to DOE and government regulators regarding the wastes, and that some of the wastes were improperly disposed of in landfills at the Paducah plant. It states that Energy Systems' storage and disposal of the wastes violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and that Energy Systems was required by its contract with DOE to comply with that environmental law.
The suit was filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the United States when they believe that defendants submitted false claims for government funds. Under the statute, the parties are entitled to receive a share of any funds recovered through the suit. The Paducah employees who filed the action are Ronald B. Fowler, Charles F. Deuschle, and Garland E. Jenkins. The False Claims Act permits the government to recover three times its damages.
The government is declining to intervene in other allegations contained in the complaint such as that Energy Systems improperly exposed workers to radiation hazards and introduced radioactively-contaminated metals into interstate commerce. The government will ask the court for ninety days to file its own amended complaint in the suit.
The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Energy, with assistance from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Criminal Enforcement.
The case is entitled United States ex rel. Natural Resources Defense Council, et al., v. Lockheed Martin Corporation, et al., Civil Action No. 5:99CV00170-M (W.D. Ky.).