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Nevada congressman calls for Secretary Rick Perry to resign over nuclear waste disposal controversy

A Nevada congressman is calling for Energy Secretary Rick Perry's resignation after the department acknowledged low-level radioactive waste that was shipped to a site north of Las Vegas may have been mislabeled and out of compliance with safety regulations for years.

Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford said Wednesday that Perry has disrespected the people of Nevada and eroded public trust in his ability to abide by rules established for nuclear waste disposal.

The U.S. Energy Department has since suspended the shipments of low-level radioactive waste from Tennessee to Nevada while it investigates the issue. 

Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement Wednesday that none of the materials shipped as early as 2013 from the Y-12 facility in Tennessee posed any health or safety threats to workers or the general public.

But she said the shipments slated for disposal at the Nevada National Security Site north of Las Vegas were not in compliance with the site's acceptance criteria and were "potentially mischaracterized" as the wrong category of low-level waste for years.

She says the department's National Nuclear Security Administration has launched an internal investigation "to determine how this went undetected" for up to six years.

The material is unrelated to weapons-grade plutonium that the department secretly shipped to the same site last year and is currently at the center of a legal battle with the state of Nevada in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

But Horsford says it's further evidence that Nevada has been covertly coerced into illegally storing nuclear materials. He says Perry must resign immediately.

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