Energy secretary may speed plutonium removal from Nevada

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto says Energy Secretary Rick Perry has committed to expediting the removal of weapons-grade plutonium it secretly shipped to a site in Nevada last year if she agrees to stop blocking appointments to vacant positions in his department.

But it's not clear how soon that could happen or where the radioactive material that's currently scheduled to be moved to New Mexico by 2026-2027 would go in the meantime.

"We had talked about a three- to five-year period, but I'm waiting to see what I have in writing," Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, told reporters in Carson City Wednesday night.

The Energy Department didn't immediately respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday.

The state of Nevada has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to order the government to remove the plutonium from a site north of Las Vegas while it considers the state's appeal seeking to overturn a ruling by a U.S. judge in Reno refusing to issue a temporary injunction banning the shipment of any more of the material to Nevada.

The senator said Perry telephoned her last Friday "to talk about his concerns about my holding the nominees up and his need for some of those positions."

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