The Department of Energy (DOE) secretly shipped about a half-ton of weapons-grade radioactive plutonium to Nevada despite the state’s opposition.
The Trump administration made the disclosure Wednesday as part of a federal court case in Nevada in which the state is trying to block the DOE from its publicly stated plans to ship radioactive materials from South Carolina.
“Because sufficient time has now elapsed after conclusion of this campaign, DOE may now publicly state that it has completed all shipment of plutonium (approximately ½ metric ton) to Nevada,” Bruce Diamond, general counsel for the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, wrote in a court declaration, noting that the action was previously classified.
“Although the precise date that this occurred cannot be revealed for reasons of operational security, it can be stated that this was done before November 2018, prior to the initiation of the litigation.”
Diamond did not disclose the route the material took, although the DOE previously said it would be moved in special containers with lead radiation shields, among other precautions, carried on trucks.
The plutonium went to the Nevada National Security Site, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Nevada sued the DOE that month to stop the shipments, arguing that the agency had not properly considered the environmental impacts of shipping the materials. The agency’s plan is to move a total of one ton of material to the Nevada site.
Nevada officials were angered by the disclosure and pledged to hold the Trump administration accountable.
“I am beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception from the U.S. Department of Energy,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) said in a statement.
The department led the State of Nevada to believe that they were engaging in good-faith negotiations with us regarding a potential shipment of weapons-grade plutonium, only to reveal that those negotiations were a sham all along. They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” he said.
Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHeller won't say if Biden won election Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Photos of the Week: Infrastructure vote, India floods and a bear MORE (D-Nev.) called the move “deceitful and unethical,” and said it jeopardized “the health and safety of thousands of Nevadans and Americans who live in close proximity to shipment routes.”