State, feds reach agreement to remove plutonium secretly sent to Nevada

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 3:33 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -The state of Nevada announced Friday afternoon it reached an agreement with the Department of Energy over shipment of weapons-grade plutonium to be stored in Nevada.

The agreement, which also involved Nevada’s congressional delegation, requires DOE to begin removing one-half metric ton of plutonium currently in Nevada in 2021 and have it removed by the end of 2026.

The DOE also agrees not to ship the additional one-half metric ton of plutonium that it originally had planned to Nevada.

In August 2018 the DOE announced plans to ship one metric ton of plutonium to Nevada. While the state was negotiating with the DOE, a half metric ton was secretly shipped. The state sued.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du agreed in October to allow Nevada to amend its lawsuit in an ongoing legal battle with the DOE to try to show why the government should be forced to remove weapons-grade plutonium it secretly shipped to a site near Las Vegas in 2018 over the state's objections.

The press release Friday from the Nevada Attorney General’s Office said the agreement allows the state to start building trust again with the DOE.

Gov. Steve Sisolak called it a significant victory in efforts to keep weapons-grade nuclear material out of the state.

“Every Nevadan should rest assured that their health and safety continues to be our first priority.” Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement. “The governor, our federal delegation and my office have worked tirelessly to have this dangerous, weapons-grade material removed from our state.”

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto pushed two secretaries of energy to remove the plutonium.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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