DOE defends plutonium shipment to Nevada

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The Latest on a federal court battle over the shipment of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

The U.S. Energy Department says the weapon-grade plutonium it shipped from South Carolina to a security site near Las Vegas was the same type of material it has safely transported between its sites for decades.

The department said in a statement Thursday its National Nuclear Security Administration routinely ships similar radioactive material between its sites as part of its national security missions.

The agency disclosed for the first time on Wednesday that it trucked about 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms) of the plutonium to Nevada sometime between August and November when Nevada filed a lawsuit seeking to block the shipments.

The department said it had to keep the shipment secret until now for national security reason.
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11:15 a.m.

A federal judge has denied Nevada's latest request to immediately block all future shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to a national security site north of Las Vegas.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du denied the state's request for a temporary restraining order on Thursday, a day after the Energy Department revealed it already has shipped one-half metric ton of the highly radioactive material from South Carolina to Nevada.

The judge in Reno says she will allow to proceed on a regular schedule proceedings related to the merits of a lawsuit Nevada filed in November seeking to block plans the Energy Department approved in August to transfer a full metric ton of plutonium to Nevada.

The department disclosed for the first time Wednesday it secretly trucked half that much to the site near Las Vegas sometime before November and said it doesn't intend to ship any more there.
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10 a.m.

A federal judge has denied Nevada's initial request to block the shipment of weapons-grade plutonium that the Energy Department has revealed already occurred months ago.

The judge in Reno is now considering a new plea from Nevada for another injunction to prevent any further shipments from South Carolina to a site north of Las Vegas.

Nevada's attorney general is asking Judge Miranda Du to schedule a status hearing Monday on the growing controversy.

Gov. Steve Sisolak says the state is considering seeking a contempt of court order after he says the government lied about the transfer of the plutonium.

Energy Department officials say they had to keep the shipment secret until now for national security reasons.

Deputy Attorney General Marta Adams says in a new affidavit Justice Department lawyers assured her no shipment would occur before Jan. 21.

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