The Latest: No ruling on plutonium shipments to Nevada

January 17, 2019 - 7:27 pm

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on Nevada's attempts to block the shipment of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a site north of Las Vegas (all times local, PST):

4:25 p.m.

A federal judge in Nevada says she's unlikely to decide before next month whether to block the U.S. Energy Department from shipping a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site north of Las Vegas.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du expressed sympathy for the state's argument during an evidentiary hearing Thursday in Reno that the federal government has failed to complete an adequate environmental review necessary to ship the radioactive material to Nevada.

But she refused to immediately grant the state's request for a temporary injunction blocking the move and agreed to allow Justice Department lawyers to file additional briefs on behalf of the Energy Department.

She also wants to review a pending motion by the state of South Carolina due by the end of this month to transfer the case back to South Carolina where a federal judge has ordered the plutonium removed from the Savannah River reservation by Jan. 1, 2020.

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11:40 a.m.

Lawyers for the state of Nevada are in a federal courtroom seeking an injunction that would at least temporarily prohibit the U.S. Energy Department from shipping weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a security site north of Las Vegas.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Wayne Howell told a judge in Reno Thursday that the U.S. government has failed to do the required environmental reviews and provide information necessary to ensure the plutonium shipments pose no threat to public safety or the environment.

Department lawyers insist they'll comply with all laws but that the potential transportation routes and other details are classified information.

Judge Miranda Du hasn't indicated which way she'll rule or when. She says Energy Department officials appear to be arguing that they know what they are doing so the state should trust them.

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