15:56 GMT26 November 2020
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    The US state of Nevada is requesting a judge reject the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) motion for dismissal of a state lawsuit which accuses the federal government of conducting a “secret plutonium smuggling operation” that violates environmental laws and subverts states’ oversight powers.

    In a Monday court filing, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford requested US District Judge Miranda Du of Reno, Nevada, block the DOE’s plea to drop the lawsuit concerning its shipment of plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada in the past year.

    “DOE shamelessly claims that its covert violations of environmental laws and its creation of a radiological public nuisance are unreviewable by both the judiciary and the state injured by the federal government’s secret plutonium smuggling operation,” the Nevada AG said, reported the Associated Press. “DOE wants Nevada and the court to stand by idly while it inflicts ecological damage with impunity.”

    However, past filings from the US government revealed it does not believe the issue is of importance - especially considering the fact that no new plutonium is scheduled for shipment to Nevada.

    “DOE’s decision to transport plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada has been consummated and cannot be ‘undone,’” the government said in a November motion to have the state’s suit dismissed, as reported by the Associated Press.

    According to the state, the federal government agency repeatedly cited national security as the reason why it could not discuss matters pertaining to the shipment and its associated risks.

    The DOE argued in its motion for dismissal that according to a previous, related Supreme Court statement, states have “no role” in the disposal, handling or transportation of plutonium. It also cited the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which granted the federal government complete rights to regulate the radioactive chemical.

    As for the potential dangers associated with the material’s shipment across state lines, the DOE asserted that the harm cited by Nevada is purely speculative.

    The DOE noted in its November motion that there “is not now and never has been a live case or controversy before the federal courts because Nevada has failed to articulate a concrete and particularized injury of its own that is threatened by the now-completed shipments.”

    The most recent update to the state’s complaint clarifies that “regardless of any mootness related to further shipments,” the removal of the radioactive substance can be mandated by a court order.

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    Tags:
    smuggling, Department of Energy, environment, Attorney General, federal court, shipment, radioactive, plutonium, Nevada
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