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 fuel. "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