LAS VEGAS (ASSOCIATED PRESS/FOX5) -- Nevada leaders have learned the energy department secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada. The state had been protesting the move for months.
“I just feel that everyone needs to know we will do everything possible, everything within our power to assure that this will not happen again and that we can rectify this situation,” Governor Steve Sisolak said.
The governor expressed frustration after learning the Department of Energy shipped half a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada sometime before November 2018.
"To put the health and the well being of millions of people at risk through the transportation and in Nevada without giving us the opportunity to prepare in case there would have been a mishap along the way I think was reckless and irresponsible on behalf of the department,” Sisolak said.
The plutonium had been stored at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The Department of Energy approved shipping the radioactive material to Nevada by 2020. But the state asked a judge to block the move and tried to negotiate with energy department officials.
“How can you negotiate in good faith with a group that did this with total reckless and irresponsibility any commitment rings pretty hollow as far as I'm concerned,” Sisolak said.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department told a federal judge the government had already delivered plutonium to the Nevada National Security Site about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.
"This did happen without anyone's knowledge and this happened without the knowledge of my office, without the knowledge of the attorney general's office without the knowledge of any of our federal delegations," Sisolak said.
Lawmakers from Nevada were also speaking out against the move.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto released a statement saying in part, "I’ll be demanding they explain why these agencies ignored a federal court and how this reckless decision was made.”
Senator Jacky Rosen called it a “deceitful and unethical move, jeopardizing the health and safety of thousands of Nevadans and Americans who live in close proximity to shipment routes”
Department of Energy lawyers argued top secret details of the shipment weren't disclosed because of national security.
But Governor Sisolak says that put the safety of Nevadans in jeopardy. Sisolak also said he does not want the plutonium stored at the Nevada National Security Site long term.
“It is not our intent to allow it to be in the facility I feel it was in poor faith that they did this it was a disingenuous position that they held and it was our intention that it was never supposed to be stored there,” Sisolak said.
The state filed a motion for a restraining order to prevent any more shipments to Nevada.
Lawyers for the department of energy are now saying any more plutonium moved out of South Carolina will go somewhere else.