A federal judge in Reno has agreed to expedite consideration of Nevada's latest bid for an emergency order to block any shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to the state.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also has agreed to hear oral arguments in August on Nevada's appeal challenging the Reno judge's earlier refusal to prohibit any more shipments of the highly radioactive material from South Carolina.

The U.S. Energy Department asked Judge Miranda Du earlier this month to dismiss Nevada's lawsuit because the shipment already has occurred, arguing that the case is now moot.

Du issued an order late Monday refusing to dismiss the case and putting those proceedings on hold until the appellate court rules.

She ordered DOE to respond to Nevada's latest emergency motion by Thursday and Nevada's lawyers to reply by noon Monday.

Bruce Hamilton, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, said in a March 21 letter to Secretary Rick Perry that "a seismically induced high explosive violent reaction could result in unmitigated" radiation exposure to the public.

But he told a House subcommittee last week his warning was directed at a type of testing that no longer occurs at the Nevada site.

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