LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Department of Energy has removed weapons-grade plutonium that was secretly shipped to Nevada during President Donald Trump’s term, according to a Friday news release. The matter was resolved four years ahead of schedule.
One-half metric ton of plutonium — just over 1,100 pounds — was sent to the Nevada National Security Site without informing Nevada officials. The site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, is about 90 miles north of Las Vegas on U.S. 95.
Following a lawsuit filed by Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto worked out an agreement with then-Secretary Rick Perry to get the plutonium out by 2026.
Cortez Mast announced the completion of the removal in a news release on Friday, saying the National Nuclear Security Administration completed the removal early.
When state officials learned of the secret shipments, it fueled a long-running feud with the Trump Administration. The disclosure at the end of January, 2019, prompted Gov. Steve Sisolak to request a face-to-face meeting with Trump.
The antagonism between Trump and Sisolak continued through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevada battled for years to keep nuclear waste out of the state after Yucca Mountain was designated as a nuclear waste repository in 1987. The secret shipments of weapons-grade plutonium stoked fears that Yucca Mountain could be revived by federal officials.