Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday that the state will appeal a judge’s ruling issued last week denying the state’s request to ban the federal government from sending more plutonium to the state.
“My administration continues to exercise every legal tool at our disposal to fight back against the federal government’s reckless disregard for the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” Sisolak said in a release. “As I said in my State of the State address, I will stand up to any attempt to send even one ounce of nuclear material to Nevada.”
Attorney General Aaron Ford has filed a notice with the U.S. District Court of the state’s intention to appeal the decision on the state’s preliminary injunction regarding plutonium shipments to Nevada by the Department of Energy (DOE).
“As I’ve said before, Governor Sisolak and I will vigorously oppose any future shipments of plutonium to our State, and are deeply disappointed by the District Court judge’s decision to deny our attempts to do so,” Ford said. “Today, we provided the District Court notice that we will appeal this decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Ford added that the move reflects the state’s resolve to “exhaust every legal avenue to ensure the health, safety and economic prosperity of its residents is not jeopardized.”
The notice comes in response to Judge Miranda Du’s decision Thursday denying the state’s request for a preliminary injunction. The decision came the day before the federal government disclosed it had secretly already made the delivery of a half of a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, sometime before last November.
The ruling did not address the state’s new request for a 14-day temporary restraining order, which was announced last week during a press conference in which Nevada’s governor and attorney general expressed their outrage over the clandestine shipment.
The state’s congressional delegation has also been activated to help stave off future shipments and find out when the plutonium was shipped, what route it took and how long it will be warehoused in Nevada, information it has been denied over claims that it is classified.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said that she expected the state to act.
“I had talked to the governor and I knew they were going to take appropriate action for the state and I think they should,” Cortez Masto said of the state’s notice.
She has asked for a classified briefing for the delegation and plans to visit the NNSS. Cortez Masto said that her office is working with DOE to nail down a time for both.
“We are working on time, not only for the classified briefing, but also a time that I, as well as the governor… and the delegation can actually go visit and see how it’s being stored,” she said.
Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen wrote to Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Friday asking 18 questions, including how many shipments were made to Nevada, what modes of transportation were used, what form the plutonium was in when shipped and what kind of container was used.
Another letter, also sent Friday and signed by all the delegation’s Democrats, went to the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration inquiring about a variety of other things, including future NNSA projects and information on hazardous materials shipped to Nevada. Members requested that the information be delivered to their offices no later than Feb. 10.
The plan to store plutonium in Nevada is the result of the DOE and the NNSA’s failure to meet a deadline to complete construction on a South Carolina facility that is meant to repurpose excess plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors. A federal judge in May ordered that one metric ton of plutonium be removed from the site.