Prairie Island Indian Community Responds to CNN Scheduled Airing of Pro-Nuclear Documentary Tribe urges viewers to consider the risks of generating more nuclear power without first identifying a solution for long-term radioactive waste storage

WELCH, Minn., Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prairie Island Indian Community's Tribal Council today issued the following statement in response to CNN's plans to air "Pandora's Promise," a documentary film that heavily favors an increased reliance on nuclear power and explores attitudes about potential environmental benefits.

"The Prairie Island Indian Community knows a thing or two about promises. The thousands of pounds of radioactive nuclear waste stranded on our ancestral homeland provide a daily reminder of how easily promises can be broken.

"When onsite nuclear storage was first approved in our state of Minnesota 20 years ago, our Tribe and other concerned citizens were promised it would be temporary, and because the federal government was legally required to develop a national repository by 1998, we were also promised that only 17 spent fuel casks were needed on Prairie Island. Of course, those promises were broken. Then, Congress passed another law designating Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the site for the national waste repository. After nearly a decade of political chicanery and $15 billion in investments by the American people, those efforts were suspended in 2010. A Blue Ribbon Commission was then established to find a solution, but Congress has taken no action to implement its recommendations.

"To date, no replacement facility has been identified and all progress made toward developing the Yucca Mountain site has been halted. Thirty-five spent fuel casks are now stored on Prairie Island, with a total of 98 needed to store the nuclear waste generated through 2034, the end of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant's current operating license. 

"We do not know where we will store the nuclear waste for the hundreds of thousands of years it must be shielded from the environment, and the nuclear industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission still do not know what the long-term effects of the high burn up fuel are on the fuel assemblies, cladding and internal cask components. Broken promise after broken promise – while we foolishly continue to generate more and more nuclear waste. 

"While not opposed to nuclear power as an energy source, we are deeply troubled by the federal government's broken promise to remove the highly radioactive waste from our communities. The nuclear industry as a whole has generated a reported 67,500 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste stored at nuclear sites across the country, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. While our Tribe faces unique threats given our extremely close proximity to the nuclear storage site on our ancestral homeland – which sits just 600 yards from our homes – and numerous evacuation challenges should a disaster occur, the truth is that millions of Americans in 33 states now live in relative close proximity to one of 63 licensed storage facilities.

"Any suggestion that more nuclear power is the solution when there seems to be no political will to get a geologic repository like Yucca Mountain back on track simply sanctions more broken promises. Continued forced on-site storage is putting communities like the Prairie Island Indian Community – and major metropolitan areas around the country – at considerable risk, exposing all of us to the vulnerabilities of aging facilities, human error, natural disasters and even acts of terrorism."

About the Prairie Island Indian Community
The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 30 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Twin nuclear reactors and 35 large steel nuclear waste storage casks sit just 600 yards from Prairie Island tribal homes. A total of 98 casks could be stranded on Prairie Island indefinitely unless the federal government fulfills its promise to build a permanent storage facility. The only evacuation route off the Prairie Island is frequently blocked by passing trains. The Tribe has been pushing for the removal of the nuclear waste since 1994 when Xcel Energy was first allowed to store the waste near its reservation. On the web:

Emily Smolik

SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community


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