Nevada Takes Another Step To Force Removal Of Plutonium From Site
August 15, 2019

Nevada hasn’t given up its fight to try to get the federal government to remove a half-metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium that was secretly sent to the Nevada National Security Site last fall.

The Nevada attorney general’s office on Thursday filed a motion asking the U.S. District Court to allow the state to amend its original complaint to request that the court force the Department of Energy to remove the nuclear material from the Nevada National Security Site.

“Even though the Ninth Circuit recently determined that Nevada’s interlocutory appeal from this court’s preliminary injunction denial was moot, Nevada’s fight to protect its citizens and environment from ongoing harm caused by the Department of Energy’s secret plutonium shipment will continue,” the motion from the attorney general’s office said.

The filing comes two days after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the state’s initial appeal, in part because the initial complaint in the lawsuit did not ask for the material to be removed. Nevada officials did not know when they filed the lawsuit in November 2018 that the material had already been shipped to Nevada. The federal government did not disclose that fact until January in a court filing.

A Reno federal judge denied the state’s original motion to stop the shipments from coming to Nevada because those shipments had already occurred, and the Ninth Circuit upheld that decision.

A different federal judge last year ordered the Energy Department to remove one metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. A half-ton was shipped to Nevada last fall, and the Energy Department announced last week that the other half-ton had been shipped to either Texas or New Mexico.

In April, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said that she had struck a deal with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to remove the plutonium from Nevada starting in 2021, and that no additional plutonium would be sent to Nevada.

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