SRS plutonium shipments to Nevada are complete, NNSA general counsel declares

February 16, 2019

No more of the one metric ton of plutonium designated for removal from South Carolina will be sent to the Nevada National Security Site, according to Bruce Diamond, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s general counsel.

“I now file this declaration to clarify my previous statement and again assert that NNSA has completed all plutonium shipments to the Nevada National Security Site and the state of Nevada under the proposed action at issue in this case,” Diamond said in a Feb. 13 court declaration.

“As stated in the United States’ status report in response to the court’s minute order ... no more plutonium will be shipped to the Nevada National Security Site from any location as part of the supplement analysis’ proposed action,” Diamond continued.

A half-metric-ton of defense plutonium has already been relocated to NNSS. That tranche was handled prior to November 2018 and was publicly revealed in a separate declaration made by Diamond in late January.

The relocation campaign — followed by high-profile government outrage — is the result of a December 2017 court order, which requires the U.S. Department of Energy to get one metric ton of weapons-usable plutonium out of the Savannah River Site and South Carolina in general by 2020.

The NNSA is a semiautonomous energy department agency.

A NNSA spokesperson last year told the Aiken Standard half of the one metric ton would be taken out of the state by the end of 2018 — that came to fruition. The remaining half, the spokesperson said, would be moved out of the state by the end of 2019.

A NNSA senior spokesperson earlier this month said the agency continues to be “on track” to satisfy the court’s order.

The total one metric ton of plutonium, according to a July 2018 NNSA study, was scheduled to be sent to NNSS and the Pantex Plant in Texas for staging.

The metric ton will eventually be used for weapons — pit production — purposes at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to the same study.

“This material will ultimately be used for vital national security missions and is not waste,” NNSA Chief of Staff William “Ike” White wrote in a letter to Nevada officials.

NNSS is northwest of Las Vegas.