WELCH, Minn., Aug. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prairie Island Indian Community issued the following statement from Tribal Council President Johnny Johnson in response to today's forced shutdown of one of two reactors at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant. According to Xcel Energy, operators at the plant were forced to shut down Unit 1 early this morning when two diesel generators were determined to be inoperable during a monthly test. The unit is being shut down until the generators can be repaired. These generators are part of the safety systems in place to help maintain plant function in the event of a loss of offsite electricity.
"The Prairie Island Indian Community is monitoring today's events closely," said Tribal Council President Johnny Johnson. "We have been in touch with both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Xcel Energy and have been assured that today's forced shutdown of the Unit One reactor is not expected to result in any radiation releases.
"Despite these assurances, today's unplanned shutdown – and the unusual white steam clouds released throughout the day during the reactor shutdown – are ominous reminders of the fact that the 40-year old Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant operating a half-mile from our homes relies on aging technology.
"To have not just one, but both of the back-up diesel generators fail is very troubling. A failure of the back-up diesel generators can affect all other safety features that rely on the electricity that they generate. The failure of both of them during a routine monthly test is simply not acceptable.
"In fact, over the past couple of years, there have been more than 30 reported incidents like failing equipment, security breaches, human performance problems and operating errors. Just last summer, Xcel experienced problems when back-up generators were simply declared inoperable due to high external air temperatures. Today, however, the generators actually failed while operating during a monthly test."
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 29 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: www.prairieislandnews.com.
SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community