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Wednesday
Aug142019

Federal court rules it's okay for DOE to "Screw Nevada" with secret military-grade plutonium shipments and storage, against its will and without prior notification! Resistance needed!

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (left), with Ian Zabarte of the Native Community Action Council, at the "Zero Hour" youth climate march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Saturday, July 21, 2018. Photo by Galen Tromble.As posted at the State of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects' "What's New?" website section:

[Updated - Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Updated - Tuesday, August 13, 2019
As if the judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were named George Orwell, Franz Kafka, and Lewis Carroll, they ruled that Nevada can't block the first shipment, of 500 kilograms, from Savannah River Site in South Carolina, because it already has happened.
Yes. In secret! While the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) perpetrated a fraud upon the court, and the State of Nevada, by pretending to take part in good faith in Nevada's federal court proceeding seeking to block the shipment, when the shipment had already taken place in secret!
DOE only many long months later admitted this was the case.
As the AP has reported:

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state’s appeal after a judge refused to block any future shipments to Nevada. The court in San Francisco said the matter is moot because the Energy Department already sent the radioactive material and has promised that no more will be hauled there.

“The remedy Nevada sought — stopping the government from shipping plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada under the proposed action — is no longer available,” the court wrote.

Nevada also wanted the court to order the government to remove the plutonium it shipped last year but didn’t reveal had arrived there until January.

The 9th Circuit said that issue also is moot because the state failed to include that request in its original motion seeking to block future shipments.

“Because the government completed the shipment, any harm caused by the shipment cannot be ‘undone’ by granting the motion Nevada actually filed,” the ruling said.

This of course begs the question, how could Nevada argue for the 500 kg of weapons-grade Pu to be removed, when it didn't even know the shipment had already taken place?!

The first shipment is being stored at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), formerly known as the Nevada Test Site (for nuclear weapons detonations). The storage location is thus some tens of miles from Yucca Mountain, as it sits on the western edge of the NNSS, a federal nuclear-military facility as big as the State of Rhode Island!

Another 500 kg of weapons-grade plutonium (ultra hazardous, as in the event of a transport or storage accident or attack) has left South Carolina, only no one knows where it has headed for storage. This is enough to make scores to hundreds of nuclear weapons. 

But of course, the DOE promising that no more will be hauled to Nevada strains credibility, since they have already done so deceptively. The State of Nevada, the court itself, and the public were under the distinct impression the Pu had not yet been shipped, but DOE had done so, secretly, and dishonestly.

Re: the secrecy, Nevada has protested DOE's application of national security classification secrecy for the shipment:

Nevada says the Trump administration abused “top secret” classifications to meet a court order to remove a ton of weapons-grade plutonium from the Savannah River site in South Carolina by Jan. 1, 2020.

The good news is that the NV Attorney General is not backing down one iota.

As AP has reported:

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said late Tuesday he’ll continue to press the state’s case in court but didn’t provide any immediate details of its next legal move.

“The Department of Energy’s deceitful behavior in handling these shipments demonstrates my office’s need to continue aggressively litigating to hold the Department of Energy to its promises,” Ford said in a statement.

“The health and safety of all Nevadans is of paramount importance to my office, and our dedicated team will continue to pursue all options for ensuring that no further unlawful plutonium shipments reach this state,” he said.

Among other options, Nevada could now request a hearing before the full 9th Circuit or seek a new court order to remove the plutonium that’s already been shipped.

Of course, this horrible ruling comes in the middle of attempts to "Screw Nevada -- Again!," as on Capitol Hill for the past few years. In 2010, President Obama's DOE cancelled the dump proposal as "unworkable" in the face of such stiff resistance across the board in Nevada. Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also starved the beast, making sure no funding was appropriated for the proposed dump, year after year.

Thus the court's ruling evokes memories of the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987 -- an amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 -- that singled out Yucca Mountain, on Western Shoshone Indian land in Nevada, as the only site in the U.S. to be further studied for a geologic repository for commercial and military irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste permanent burial.

(In 2001 to 2002, the George W. Bush administration made the fateful decision to go ahead with the Yucca dump, despite its very serious scientific flaws, non-consent from Nevada, violations of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley with the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, and many other fatal weaknesses.)

In response, for 32 years since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, the NV AG, as well as its governor, its state legislature, its U.S. Congressional Delegation (all on a bipartisan basis!) the Western Shoshone Indian nation, a vast majority of the residents of Nevada, and more than a thousand environmental and environmental justice groups, have been resisting the Yucca dump tooth and nail!

Here is where you come in. Please join the resistance. Contact your U.S. Representative, and both your U.S. Senators. Urge them to vote against any authorization or appropriations (funding) bills that would advance the Yucca dump. You can be patched through to your U.S. Congress Members' D.C. offices via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, at (202) 224-3121. And since it's still August recess, you can get together with friends, family, colleagues, etc., to request a face to face member with one or more of your Members of Congress, on this issue, while they are back home.

Nevada is NOT a radioactive wasteland! (See a 2018 photo of Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps, on the National Mall in D.C., alongside Ian Zabarte, Secretary of the Native Community Action Council, a party with official legal standing in the NRC Yucca licensing proceeding, above. The two were rallying alongside youth climate protectors.) The DOE, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal courts, the Trump White House, and the nuclear industry need to stop treating it that way!

Thanks for taking action and spreading the word, re: ways to pressure Congress to pull the plug on this dangerously bad idea, once and for all!

Learn more about this vital issue at our Yucca Mountain Dump website section.