Prairie Island Indian Community Calls on State and Xcel to Honor Nuclear Waste Storage Agreement
1994 Agreement Gives Tribe Legal Standing to Enforce Storage Limits
PRAIRIE ISLAND, Minn., May 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prairie Island Tribal Council today called on the state of Minnesota and Xcel Energy to honor a 1994 law and subsequent contract allowing limited storage of spent nuclear fuel adjacent to the tribe's reservation. Sen. Mark Ourada and Rep. Loren Jennings today introduced a bill to expand nuclear waste storage on Prairie Island. "We will take the necessary steps, including litigation, to hold the state of Minnesota and Xcel Energy to the law and the agreement they signed naming our community as a party with standing to enforce the agreement," said Audrey Kohnen, president of the Prairie Island Tribal Council. "We cannot sit by as another promise to an Indian community is broken and our health and safety concerns are ignored." In 1994, Xcel Energy (Northern States Power) officials promised the Minnesota Legislature that if it were allowed to store nuclear waste in 17 dry cask storage units on Prairie Island, the company would never again ask the Legislature for additional storage. Relying on this promise, the Legislature subsequently authorized Xcel Energy to store the nuclear waste on Prairie Island. Due to its close proximity to the plant and safety concerns, the Prairie Island Indian Community was made a third-party beneficiary to the 1994 agreement and given standing to enforce the agreement. "We expect Xcel to live up to the promise it made in 1994," Kohnen said. "We have a responsibility to our tribal members to protect their health and safety. That means holding Xcel and lawmakers to the agreement they made with our community." Xcel Energy has already filled 12 nuclear waste storage casks and projects the remaining five casks will be filled by 2006. If Xcel Energy cannot get authorization for additional storage, the company may be forced to shut down its Prairie Island nuclear power plant before its reactor licenses expire in 2013 and 2014. "It's clear to our community that this waste will not leave Prairie Island anytime soon," Kohnen said. "Our homes and our business sit fewer than three blocks from the Xcel nuclear plant and nuclear waste storage site -- no community in the nation lives closer to a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste storage site than we do. We've been forced to bear the consequences of the nation's failed nuclear waste storage policy for far too long." The Prairie Island nuclear power plant and waste storage site is located fewer than 600 yards from the Prairie Island Indian Community. Adding to the tribe's concern, in the event of an accident, there is only one permanent evacuation route off Prairie Island, and it's frequently blocked by train activity and subject to seasonal flooding. The Prairie Island Indian Community has never benefited from the Prairie Island nuclear power plant -- the community does not even receive the electricity the plant generates. No community in the nation lives as close to a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste storage site as the Prairie Island Indian Community. The Prairie Island Indian Community is a federally recognized Indian Nation, located 50 minutes southeast of the Twin Cities along the Mississippi River. The Community owns and operates Treasure Island Resort & Casino. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X60516813
SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community
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