The Department of Energy spent millions of dollars over a 32-month period defending its contractors from the public. A DOE internal document says that the agency paid $47 million to private attorneys from Oct. 1, 1990, through May 31, 1993, to defend its private contractors from class action lawsuits. The suits charged firms such as Rockwell International and Dow Chemical with releasing radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air and water and sought money for medical care, health-monitoring and damages. When the DOE paid law firms to fight lawsuits at plants at Rocky Flats, Colo., Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash., legal fees for the defense of the nuclear contractors soared to $7 million, $2.2 million and $19.7 million respectively. The Military Production Network, an alliance of organizations concerned about nuclear bomb production and waste clean-up, received and released the leaked document. For a copy of the 19-page report on Contractor Litigation and Outside Council Fees, contact Bob Schaeffer with the Military Production Network at 617/489-0461.