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.
 
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SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community

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