DOE says Nevada officials’ claims they didn’t know about plutonium shipment is “inaccurate”

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The Department of Energy has fired back after Nevada elected officials blasted the agency for shipping weapons-grade plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site.

The DOE calls Nevada officials’ claims that they weren’t notified about the shipment “inaccurate.”  

This shipment represents a fraction of hazardous cargo — some of it radioactive — that moves through Nevada every year.

The one issue Nevada’s top state and federal elected officials are united on is the storage of nuclear material; whether it’s fighting the use of Yucca Mountain to store spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants or trying to stop shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site.

In this case, Congresswoman Dina Titus, the senior member of Nevada’s delegation on Capitol Hill, says that although a lawsuit was pending, nobody was notified that the plutonium shipment was coming until Thursday — 3-months after it had been shipped.

“We were scheduled to have a briefing from them in December which they canceled, and we assumed it was because of a lawsuit,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev. “Now we know it’s because it was moot because it was already here.”

Although the DOE calls that notion “inaccurate,”  Titus says the only word she got was via a public release when the initial plan was announced last August.

In 2015, sites across Nevada shipped over 15,000 tons of hazardous materials and received more than 71,000 tons, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The bulk of that is going to the U.S. Ecology facility on U.S. 95 near Beatty.

All together, that’s nearly 87,000 tons of materials.

Clark County Hazardous Materials Coordinator Richard Brenner says many of those shipments can be as small as medical doses of radiation medication.

“So they’ll put the medicine inside these lead containers, and then at that point, it’s shielding,” Brenner said.

Titus told 8 News Now at least 6 tons of plutonium remains to be shipped in the near future, but the details of where that will go are up in the air.

A federal judge in Reno struck down an injunction filed by the state that would prevent any future shipments to Nevada.

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