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Plutonium Shipments Stopped

Attorneys at Earthjustice recently claimed a significant victory against the Department of Energy when they successfully prohibited the transport of plutonium in uncertified DT-22 canisters on U.S. highways.

Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of Tri-Valley CAREs under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when the organization discovered plans for shipping plutonium in the uncertified canisters. The DT-22 canisters are 45-gallon containers that cannot be certified for plutonium shipments because they fail the government's "crush test," and could rupture in a highway accident. However, the DOE had given itself a "national security" exemption to allow it to ship the surplus plutonium across the country in the unsafe containers.

Due to the litigation, the DOE reversed its plans and wrote a memo expressing that they would no longer seek to ship plutonium from the original Rocky Flats, Colorado, site to Livermore, California, in the unsafe containers. Furthermore, Tri-Valley CAREs also revealed a DOE proposal to ship plutonium in the D-22's to Savannah River in South Carolina. Attorneys for the state were immediately contacted, and filed a similar NEPA suit to stop the shipments.

As a result of the litigations, the DOE will forgo the use of the DT-22 containers to ship hazardous materials.