Trump Administration Secretly Shipped Radioactive Plutonium to Nevada Despite State's Opposition

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has disclosed that it shipped roughly half a ton of weapons-grade radioactive plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada months ago, without the state's knowledge or consent and in spite of their vehement opposition to becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground.

In a federal court filing on Wednesday, the Trump administration disclosed that the National Nuclear Security Administration transferred the substance before November 2018 after a U.S. District Court in South Carolina ordered it be removed from the state.

"Because sufficient time has now elapsed after conclusion of this campaign, DOE may now publicly state that it has completed all shipment of plutonium (approximately ½ metric ton) to Nevada," Bruce Diamond, general counsel for the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration, wrote in the filing, adding that the information was previously classified.

He added: "Although the precise date that this occurred cannot be revealed for reasons of operational security, it can be stated that this was done before November 2018, prior to the initiation of the litigation."

Later in November, after the substance was already secretly moved, the state of Nevada sued the DOE in a bid to bar the shipment, originally planned to be one ton of material, on the grounds that the agency hadn't thoroughly considered the environmental impacts it would have on the area and citizens nearby, according to The Nevada Independent.

Following the disclosure today, Nevada officials expressed their anger at the Trump administration and vowed to seek accountability. "I am beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception from the U.S. Department of Energy," Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) 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. They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court and jeopardized the safety of Nevada's families and environment."

Sisolak added: "My administration is working with our federal delegation, and we will use the full force of every legal tool available to fight back against the federal government's reckless disregard for the safety of our state."

Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) echoed Sisolak's sentiment, calling the decision "deceitful and unethical." It jeopardized "the health and safety of thousands of Nevadans and Americans who live in close proximity to shipment routes," she added.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dina Titus (D) accused Trump administration officials of treating "Nevada as the dumping ground for the nation's nuclear waste."

Although Diamond didn't detail how the radioactive material was transported to Nevada, the DOE have previously revealed that the plutonium would be shipped on trucks inside containers fitted with lead radiation shields and other precautionary measures. It was deposited at the Nevada National Security Site, approximately 104 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The White House did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Hispanic pastors at the Roosevelt Room of the White House January 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Department of Energy (DOE) secretly shipped roughly half a ton of weapons-grade radioactive plutonium to Nevada, without state's knowledge or consent. Getty/Alex Wong