Saturday, October 17, 2009

Minnesota Indian Tribe Wants Nation's Nuclear Waste

The Prairie Island Indian Community is calling on President Barack Obama to deliver on the federal government's decades-old mandate and promise to establish a permanent repository for the nation's commercial nuclear waste. The Tribe's urging comes after Congress approved the FY2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill which cuts funding for the proposed national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., to record low levels. High-level, radioactive nuclear waste from the nation's nuclear power plants is currently accumulating at 'temporary' storage sites in 39 different states, including Minnesota.

Twenty-seven years after Congress passed the National Nuclear Waste Storage Act mandating the establishment of a national underground waste repository, and after the federal government has spent more than 20 years and $10.4 billion studying the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, President Obama this February announced his administration's plans to completely abandon the project and seek alternatives. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a vocal critic of the Yucca Mountain project, has said the administration's FY 2011 budget will provide zero funding for Yucca Mountain. This comes after the American ratepayers have contributed more than $33 billion, including nearly $700 million from Minnesotans, since 1983 to the national Nuclear Waste Fund for the development of a safe and secure national nuclear waste storage facility. A blue ribbon commission to study and recommend alternatives has yet to be appointed.

Of course, the tribe is not in complete agreement on nuclear power. Doreen Hagen, right, president of the Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council, says the tribe will fight to ensure that its homeland is not endangered by the nuclear reactor that is just 600 yards from reservation homes. (MSNBC, 2004)

The Prairie Island Indian Community is located near Red Wing, Minnesota and is located less than 600 yards from a nuclear power plant and nuclear waste storage site operated by Xcel Energy. The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is located near Red Wing, Minnesota in southeastern part of the state along the banks of the Mississippi River, approximately 50 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. (Reuters, 10/15/09)

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