Without notifying the citizens or any state officials, and in the face of longstanding public resistance that prompted a federal court filing, Donald Trump’s Department of Energy secretly shipped half a metric ton of radioactive plutonium from South Carolina to a site in Nevada.
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state's protests.
The transport of plutonium is, by definition, an extremely high-risk endeavor. Nevada argued that the Dept. of Energy failed to consider potential dangers of moving the poisonous, radioactive material through densely populated areas such as Las Vegas, to a potentially unstable site susceptible to flash floods and earthquakes. The state had requested that the truck-borne shipment be blocked in November of last year, and sought an injunction on the planned move in the U.S. District Court. As of January, the court had yet to rule on the injunction, and officials from the state were “negotiating” with the DOE.
It now appears that the “negotiations" were, as Nevada’s Democratic governor Steve Sisolak put it, a "total sham" on the part of Trump’s Dept. of Energy. And it isn’t as if officials were unaware of their deception. Although the DOE has refused to disclose exactly when the plutonium was shipped (or the route taken), it was clearly a fait accompli even as the state’s lawsuit was still pending—in fact, before the suit was even filed. DOE officials were admonished by Judge Miranda Ru not to act before her ruling—and they didn't bother to inform the Court that, in fact, the plutonium had already been shipped.
In January, Du declined to immediately block the plutonium and indicated she wouldn't rule until February. "I hope the government doesn't ship plutonium pending a ruling by this court," she said at the time.
Gov. Sisolak and the state’s senate and congressional delegations are, in a word, furious.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he's "beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception." He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues "any and all legal remedies," including contempt of court orders against the federal government.
Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen called the government's move "deceitful and unethical." Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, also a Nevada Democrat, said she would demand department officials come to her office on Thursday to explain how they made the "reckless decision" in such "bad faith.”
Once again, it appears that lying and endangering U.S. citizens are things that just “go with the territory" in Trump’s administration.