PRAIRIE ISLAND, Minn., Dec. 3, 2002 -- The Prairie Island Indian Community Tuesday reaffirmed its opposition to expanding nuclear waste storage at Prairie Island.
The tribe's announcement is in response to Xcel Energy's 2002 Resource Plan and disclosure that it plans to continue operating the Prairie Island nuclear power plant and will likely seek permission from the 2003 Minnesota Legislature to store additional nuclear waste at Prairie Island. Xcel Energy's Resource Plan was filed late Monday with the Public Utilities Commission.
As an involuntary neighbor of nuclear power for nearly 30 years and the closest community in the country to a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste site, the tribe is vital to whether Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant will be allowed to continue to operate.
In 1994, as part of the legislation that first allowed then-Northern States Power Company to store nuclear waste at Prairie Island, NSP and the state signed an agreement effectively limiting storage to 17 casks. The Prairie Island Indian Community was made an intended third-party beneficiary with standing to enforce the agreement. The agreement, including the storage limitation, cannot be changed without the tribe's permission.
Although the Prairie Island Indian Community is opposed to additional nuclear waste storage at Prairie Island, the tribe has been willing to sit down with Xcel and the state to discuss possible solutions that would address the tribe's health and safety needs, and allow the plant to continue operating.
The Prairie Island Indian Community's health and safety needs include a secondary evacuation route off Prairie Island, land for tribal members who don't want to live near the plant and compensation for emergency planning and preparedness. The Prairie Island Indian Community is located only 600 yards from the nuclear power plant and nuclear waste site.
The tribe's health and safety needs have intensified due to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the ongoing threat of terrorism against nuclear power plants in the United States. 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 seasonal flooding.
The Prairie Island Indian Community is a federally recognized Indian Nation, located 50 minutes southeast of the Twin Cities along the Mississippi River.
Source: Prairie Island Indian Community