'Nuclear Neighbor' Responds to Democratic Candidates Pledge to Kill Yucca Mountain Project

Thousands of vulnerable communities located near temporary nuclear waste

sites at risk

Nov 16, 2007, 00:00 ET from Prairie Island Indian Community

    RED WING, Minn., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A small Indian
 community located near a nuclear waste site in Minnesota responded with
 frustration today to Democratic presidential candidates who stated
 opposition to the proposed national nuclear waste repository at Nevada's
 Yucca Mountain during a nationally televised presidential debate from Las
 Vegas last night.
     The Prairie Island Indian Community is among the closest communities in
 the country to a temporary nuclear waste site, located just 600 yards from
 24 large containment units of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel.
 Prairie Island is one of thousands of communities in 39 different states
 located in close proximity to temporary nuclear waste facilities. According
 to the Department of Energy, there are presently 125 temporary nuclear
 waste storage sites scattered across the United States. More than 169
 million Americans live within 75 miles of these "temporary" storage
     "It's irresponsible to call for the termination of Yucca Mountain
 without offering a realistic alternative to solving the nation's nuclear
 waste problem," said Prairie Island Tribal Council President, Audrey
 Bennett. "Leaving nuclear waste next to vulnerable communities and pushing
 this burden off on future generations is not good leadership and it
 provides little comfort to the millions of Americans who are currently
 living near nuclear waste sites."
     The federal government has an obligation under the National Nuclear
 Waste Storage Act and subsequent acts of Congress to solve the waste
 disposal problem and move the nation's nuclear waste to a safe and secure
     "It's been 25 years since Congress mandated the federal government to
 solve this problem but nuclear waste continues to gather in our backyards,"
 added Bennett. "Yucca Mountain is a remote, militarily-secure site designed
 to permanently store the nation's high-level nuclear waste, and it's a
 safer alternative to leaving nuclear waste under varying levels of security
 at multiple locations, near communities, rivers, and other natural
 resources all across our country."
     Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Yucca Mountain project, several
 new nuclear power plants are on the drawing board. "Until or unless the
 federal government solves its nuclear waste problem, it is simply
 irresponsible to allow the construction of new nuclear power plants
 anywhere in the United States," added Bennett.
     To date, American ratepayers have contributed more than $28 billion to
 the national Nuclear Waste Fund, which is to pay for a national storage
 site. This includes $470 million from Minnesotans.
     Prairie Island is located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of
 the Mississippi River, approximately 50 miles from the Twin Cities of
 Minneapolis and St. Paul. Twin nuclear reactors and two dozen large cement
 nuclear waste storage casks sit just 600 yards from Prairie Island tribal
 homes. As many as 35 additional casks will be added in the coming years.
 The only evacuation route off the Prairie Island is frequently blocked by
 passing trains. The tribe has been fighting to have the nuclear waste
 removed since 1994 when the state of Minnesota first allowed Xcel Energy to
 store the waste near its reservation.

SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community