Prairie Island Tribal Council tours proposed
nuclear waste repository
Yucca Mountain, NV— The
Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council toured the proposed
national nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain
to learn about the project’s current status. As one of the
closest communities in the country to a temporary nuclear waste
storage site, Prairie Island wants the federal government to make
good on its commitment to move the nuclear waste to a safe facility.
“Storing the nation’s
nuclear waste in a remote, militarily-secure facility seems to
be a better alternative than leaving it where it sits now; next
to exposed communities such as ours,” said tribal council
president Audrey Bennett.
Of the $750 million paid annually
into the nuclear waste storage fund, only $100 million was allocated
for the Yucca Mountain program last year. Recently, some members
of Congress have suggested that the project be reconsidered altogether.
The federal government took ownership
of the nation’s nuclear waste in 1982 with establishment
of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and in 1987 directed the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) to focus only on Yucca Mountain as
the potential repository for the waste. The DOE was to have the
facility open by 2010 but its target completion date now is unknown
and in doubt.
In Minnesota, Xcel Energy’s
nuclear waste storage site is located just 600 yards from the
Prairie Island Indian Community and includes 19 above ground,
dry-cask storage units of highly radioactive nuclear waste. The
tribe has been fighting to have the nuclear waste removed since
1994 when the state first allowed Xcel Energy to store the waste
near its reservation.