April 2006

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.


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