Prairie Island Indian Community Supports Yucca Mountain Recommendation

Tribe Urges President Bush and Congress to Authorize Facility and Begin

Removing Nuclear Waste From Near Its Reservation As Soon As Possible

Jan 10, 2002, 00:00 ET from Prairie Island Indian Community

    PRAIRIE ISLAND, Minn., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prairie Island Indian
 Community today declared its support for Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham's
 recommendation of Yucca Mountain as the permanent national repository for
 spent nuclear fuel.  Prairie Island is the closest community in the nation to
 an existing, temporary nuclear waste storage site.
     "The Secretary's recommendation is an important step toward one day
 removing the nuclear waste from near our reservation and lessoning the nuclear
 threat to our community," said Prairie Island Tribal Council President Audrey
 Kohnen.  "We hope President Bush and Congress agree with the Secretary's
 decision and allow the project to move forward quickly.
     "We also urge our Minnesota Congressional delegation to act in the best
 interest of our community and the state of Minnesota by supporting Yucca
     Xcel Energy's nuclear waste storage site is located just 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 flooding.
 The tribe has been fighting to have the nuclear waste removed from Prairie
 Island since 1994 when the state of Minnesota first allowed Xcel Energy to
 store the nuclear waste near its reservation.
     Officials from Prairie Island have visited Yucca Mountain on several
 occasions to learn about the facility and witness the work that is being done
 there to determine the site's suitability.
     "We recognize this is a very difficult issue and we respect the viewpoints
 of those who don't share our position on Yucca Mountain," said Kohnen.  "We
 did not ask for a nuclear neighbor, and we know the people of Nevada have not
 asked for one either.  But we believe that storing nuclear waste in a remote,
 militarily secure location, in a facility designed for permanent storage is a
 better solution than leaving it where it sits, virtually unguarded and only
 yards away from vulnerable communities such as ours."
     Currently, dry-cask storage units of nuclear waste sit just outside
 Prairie Island's reservation.  Additional casks will be filled within the next
 few years for a total of 17.
     The tribe believes the recent acts of terrorism increase the need to
 remove the nuclear waste from Prairie Island.  The nuclear waste storage casks
 on Prairie Island sit only yards away from the Mississippi River, on a flood
 plain.  The tribe is concerned that an accident or an act of terrorism could
 potentially devastate its community and communities all along the Mississippi
 River, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
     If approved, Yucca Mountain isn't expected to open until 2012.
     The Prairie Island Indian Community is a federally recognized Indian
 Nation, located 50 minutes southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul along the
 Mississippi River.
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SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community