When state officials voiced adamant opposition to the Trump administration’s plan for shipping radioactive plutonium to Nevada, federal officials opted to take action in secret, according to The Nevada Independent.
In a federal court filing on Wednesday, National Nuclear Security Administration General Counsel Bruce Diamond stated that the agency sent about half a metric ton of the substance sometime before November 2018, prior to Nevada suing over the proposed move. The transfer was done after a U.S. District Court in South Carolina ordered the material be removed from that state.
Nevada's Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak said he was furious with the move and accused the Trump administration of lying to state officials about its plans.
“I am beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception from the U.S. Department of Energy,” he 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.”
“To put the health and well-being of millions of people at risk due to the transportation into Nevada, without giving us the opportunity to prepare in case there would’ve been a mishap along the way, I think it was irresponsible and reckless on behalf of the department,” Sisolak said.
The governor said the state has no idea when the hazardous material arrived in Nevado, nor what route it took on its way there — meaning officials have no way of knowing whether anyone suffered adverse effects as a result.
Attorney General Aaron Ford described communications the state had with federal officials since first learning last spring that the department was considering such a transfer. He said the state told officials the environmental analysis the government conducted was insufficient and has asked for a timeline in the fall of when the shipment might arrive.
He said Federal Judge Miranda Du had even said during a recent court hearing that she hoped the government was not shipping the plutonium while the case was pending in front of her.
But the shipment had already been completed.