District judge grants S.C. intervention in lawsuit; hearing scheduled for mid-January

January 16, 2019

A district court judge has approved the state of South Carolina’s request to intervene in a plutonium-related lawsuit filed in Nevada.

U.S. District Court Judge Miranda M. Du on Monday authorized South Carolina’s requested intervention, citing the state’s timely — repeated, too — proposals; the state’s “significant interests,” which need proper, state-level representation; and the lack of impact the intervention would have on court schedule.

“In sum, the court concludes that South Carolina has satisfied the requirements for permissive intervention ... and therefore grants South Carolina’s motion,” Du wrote in her five-page order.

The Palmetto State is now recognized as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was first levied by the state of Nevada on Nov. 30, 2018.

Nevada, via the lawsuit and a requested preliminary injunction, is attempting to block potentially 1 metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from being brought to and staged at the Nevada National Security Site, which is generally northwest of Las Vegas. The plutonium is currently stored at the Savannah River Site.

The relocation efforts are spurred by an earlier court order, which mandated at least 1 metric ton of plutonium be removed from the state of South Carolina by 2020. The National Nuclear Security Administration, under the U.S. Department of Energy wing, has proposed moving the plutonium to either NNSS or the Pantex Plant in Texas and then on to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

A court hearing for Nevada’s requested preliminary injunction is scheduled for Jan. 17, according to Du’s order. South Carolina’s intervention — as well as the state’s requested change of court venue — will not affect that date, Du wrote.