The Department Of Energy, led by noted expert Rick Perry, secretly shipped half a ton of “weapons-grade” plutonium to a site 90 miles from Las Vegas. The shipments came despite decades of objections from state officials and over concerns of both environmental groups and scientists.
The Hill reports information on the shipments only became public because Nevada sued to stop what the state thought were only plans to ship material from South Carolina. But in court, officials learned that sometime before November 2018, Trump and Perry already delivered a gift of 1,000 pounds of plutonium. The dates, means of delivery, or route the plutonium took in crossing the country is still secret.
Driving up the anger-counter is the fact that DOE was continuing to pretend to negotiate with the State of Nevada as if the shipments were still upcoming. While the state government raised objections and thought it was negotiating over how any shipments might be conducted safely, behind the scenes the plutonium was already arriving. As the state’s Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak made clear, “They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment.” Sisolak declared himself “beyond outraged” by the DOE’s action.
Plans to use one or more sites in Nevada to store nuclear waste and material from across the nation have long been an extremely sensitive subject in the state’s politics. Democrats have expressed concerns about the consequences of everything from environmental damage to potential targeting of facilities by terrorists. Republicans have looked on attempts to turn the state into the nation’s nuclear dump as a states rights issue. And with Nevada’s early position in the 2020 primaries, it seems that more than just radioactive heat is likely to be turned in this issue.
Neither Trump nor Perry has yet made a statement on the revelation, which came out during court proceedings on Wednesday.