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