U.S. says Nevada misrepresenting facts in plutonium fight

Posted Tuesday, 14 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

RENO — The state of Nevada continues to intentionally misrepresent the facts in an ongoing legal battle over the Energy Department's secret shipment of weapons-grade plutonium to a site near Las Vegas, U.S. government lawyers say in new court filings. Nevada wants a federal judge to order removal of the highly radioactive material and issue an order prohibiting any new shipments. It says the plutonium was illegally trucked to the Nevada security site over the state's objections last year after the agency refused to conduct the necessary environmental reviews on potential impacts. The Energy Department has promised no more plutonium will be shipped to Nevada from South Carolina and pledged to start moving out the materials already sent there. Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in court filings last month the government has engaged in a “secret plutonium smuggling operation” and cannot be trusted. Department lawyers said in support of their latest motion to dismiss the lawsuit last week that Nevada continues to ignore relevant case law, misconstrues past rulings and “significantly misstates contents of agency testimony in a related case in a futile attempt” to support its claims. “Throughout these proceedings, Nevada has relentlessly misrepresented the federal government's actions, complaining now, incredibly of a 'secret plutonium smuggling operation,' and characterizing the Department of Energy as a 'federal agency gone rogue,'" they wrote. They said the U.S. court in Nevada already concluded there was no proof of imminent danger to public health or the environment. “Nevada's case remains hypothetical and speculative today and its amended complaint should accordingly be dismissed,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last spring upheld a judge's ruling that the question was moot because the plutonium already was in Nevada. The San Francisco-based appellate court refused to consider the request to order removal because the state hadn't sought such relief in its original lawsuit filed more than a year ago. A judge in Reno agreed in October to allow the state to amend its lawsuit to include that request and the U.S. promptly filed a motion to dismiss the new complaint. Nevada says the government repeatedly has refused to provide classified details it needs to further characterize the risks. Lawyers for both sides told a U.S. magistrate on Friday they've agreed on a process to determine what if any additional information the department will provide to the state — some of it previously top secret — while a judge considers the motion to dismiss the case. Magistrate Carla Baldwin scheduled another status hearing for March 12. The government says in its latest filing on Friday one of Nevada's biggest misrepresentations centers on the department's plans for the future location and use of the plutonium in question. Nevada says the department has reversed its position since it argued in a legal battle with the state of South Carolina in 2017 that it was impossible to complete a full-blown environmental impact statement on the potential harm of prematurely removing the plutonium from the Savannah River site without posing a significant risk. The government says that outdated position referenced the risk posed by its original intention for the surplus plutonium to be diluted into radioactive waste before it was transported. Instead, so as to comply with a court order that it be moved from South Carolina before 2025, it says it adopted an alternative plan to ship the material to Nevada in a different, solid metal form to be used to make future nuclear weapons at another department site, most likely New Mexico, the government says. "The 'risk' referred to is from packaging for transportation and not from storage in Nevada," the new filing said.

Other articles published by Las Vegas Sun

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Gerard Gallant says he was disappointed and surprised to be fired as the Golden Knights coach this week. In an interview with the Journal Pioneer, the newspaper in Gallant’s Canadian hometown of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, he conceded that “I...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Super Bowl betting started a little early this year. Several Las Vegas sports books began posting numbers at halftime of the NFC Championship Game Sunday evening. The San Francisco 49ers pasted the Green Bay Packers 27-0 in the first half, making it...

Many options await Prince Harry and Meghan after royal split Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LONDON — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, have made their choice: a radical break from palace protocol, constant press intrusion and a lavishly funded lifestyle. In exchange, they get personal freedom — the opportunity to start fresh in Canada...

US marks King holiday amid fears of deep racial divisions Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

DETROIT — To commemorate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Nicholas Thomas and more than 100 other volunteers will board up vacant houses, install school safety signs and make other improvements to a Detroit neighborhood. Their mission is to celebrate...

Pompeo angry over death of US citizen jailed in Egypt Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

CAIRO — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "expressed outrage" to Egypt's president on Sunday at the death of an American citizen who insisted he had been wrongfully held in an Egyptian prison, according to a State Department spokeswoman. Pompeo's...

On the edge of America, census begins in a tiny Alaska town Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

TOKSOOK BAY, Alaska — There are no restaurants in Toksook Bay, Alaska. No motels or movie theater, either. There also aren't any factories. Or roads. But the first Americans to be counted in the 2020 census live in this tiny community of 661 on the...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

LUMPKIN, Ga. — In a locked, guarded courtroom in a compound surrounded by razor wire, Immigration Judge Jerome Rothschild waits -- and stalls. A Spanish interpreter is running late because of a flat tire. Rothschild tells the five immigrants before him ...

No escape: Senators to be quiet, unplugged for Trump trial Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON — No cellphones. No talking. No escape. That's the reality during the Senate's impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which will begin each day with a proclamation: "All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment."...

Thousands-strong Hong Kong protest cut short by clashes Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

HONG KONG — Clashes broke out between protesters and police in Hong Kong on Sunday, cutting short a rally after thousands had gathered at a park to call for electoral reforms and a boycott of the Chinese Communist Party. Police fired tear gas near the...

Couple together for nearly 65 years die on the same day Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

ARNOLD, Mo. — A couple who had been together for nearly 65 years have died on the same day at a St. Louis-area nursing home. Jack and Harriet Morrison's beds were placed next to each other in their final hours, allowing them to hold hands, the St....

Candidates seek new caucus voters in trailer parks, rallies Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

OTTUMWA, Iowa — Bernie Sanders is sending organizers to convenience stores across Iowa and staking out drug stores and even nursing homes. Pete Buttigieg has a more technocratic model. He's compiling detailed lists of the personal networks of his...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's trade deal with China last week opened up export opportunities for American farmers, manufacturers and energy producers. And his trade pact with Canada and Mexico, approved Thursday by the Senate, could help...

Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Kamaru Usman stayed seated, simulating a yawn. Jorge Masvidal stood and smirked. After Conor McGregor defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round of the UFC 246 main event Saturday night, the two fighters in attendance at T-Mobile Arena on...

Life here can be wonderful again Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

I enjoyed Brian Greenspun’s Dec. 22 column, in which he assured us that Americans can still have a wonderful life notwithstanding the actions of the Trump administration, using comparisons to Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”...

This trial seems unlike any other Posted Sunday, 19 January 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Having been a litigator for 40 years and having tried cases before juries and judges, I have a good idea as to what a trial entails. First, there must be a complaint filed and then a response. When the issues are joined, the complainant presents the case ...