Primary Voters Urged to Consider Candidates' Nuclear Waste Position Before Casting Super Tuesday Ballots

169 million Americans living near temporary nuclear waste storage sites

Feb 04, 2008, 00:00 ET from Prairie Island Indian Community

    RED WING, Minn., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- As "Super Tuesday" approaches,
 an Indian tribe in Minnesota is urging voters to consider the candidates'
 positions on solving the nation's nuclear waste disposal problem before
 they cast their ballots. High-level, radioactive nuclear waste from the
 nation's nuclear power plants is currently accumulating at 'temporary'
 storage sites in 39 different states, including 18 of the 24 states holding
 primaries or caucuses on Tuesday.
     A number of presidential candidates have voiced their opposition to the
 proposed national nuclear waste repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, but
 offered no alternate to solve the nation's nuclear waste problem.
     According to the Department of Energy, there are 125 temporary nuclear
 waste storage sites throughout the United States, with more than 169
 million Americans living within 75 miles of one of these temporary
 facilities. Among the closest communities in the country to a temporary
 nuclear waste site, the Prairie Island Indian Community is located just 600
 yards from 24 large containment units of highly radioactive spent nuclear
     "Developing a safe, permanent storage facility for spent nuclear fuel
 is critical to the health and welfare of the millions of Americans who
 currently live near temporary storage sites," said Prairie Island Tribal
 Council President, Ron Johnson. "The federal government must fulfill its
 obligation to the American people and solve this problem."
     Twenty-five years after Congress passed the National Nuclear Waste
 Storage Act and mandated the establishment of an underground repository,
 the future of the nation's nuclear waste disposal program remains in doubt.
 To date, more than $28 billion has been contributed by American ratepayers
 to the national Nuclear Waste Fund without result.
     "Leaving the nation's nuclear waste in temporary locations near
 communities like ours is not an acceptable answer nor is it good
 leadership," said Johnson. "This is a critical issue that the country's
 next president must deal with -- we can't bury our heads in the sand, we
 need leadership."
     "Until or unless the federal government solves its nuclear waste
 problem, it is simply irresponsible to allow the construction of new
 nuclear power plants anywhere in the United States," added Johnson.
     In January Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced legislation that
 would establish a phased licensing approach to the Yucca Mountain project.
 The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2008 would kick-start the
 project, now nearly 20 years behind schedule, with provisions including the
 submittal of the license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
 by June 30, 2008.
     States Currently Housing Nuclear Waste
     Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida,
 Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine,
 Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
 Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
 Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,
 Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin
     About Prairie Island
     Prairie Island is located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of
 the Mississippi River, approximately 50 miles from the Twin Cities of
 Minneapolis and St. Paul. Twin nuclear reactors and two dozen large cement
 nuclear waste storage casks sit just 600 yards from Prairie Island tribal
 homes. As many as 35 additional casks will be added in the coming years.
 The only evacuation route off the Prairie Island is frequently blocked by
 passing trains. The tribe has been fighting to have the nuclear waste
 removed since 1994 when the state of Minnesota first allowed Xcel Energy to
 store the waste near its reservation.

SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community