Prairie Island Indian Community Issues Letter to President, Congressional Leaders, Urging an End to the Lock-out of Federal

  Prairie Island Indian Community Issues Letter to President, Congressional
  Leaders, Urging an End to the Lock-out of Federal Nuclear Inspectors, NRC
                                  Employees

PR Newswire

WELCH, Minn., Oct. 11, 2013

WELCH, Minn., Oct. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Prairie Island Indian
Community's (PIIC) five-member Tribal Council yesterday issued a letter to
President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker
John Boehner, urging them to end the lock-out of Federal nuclear inspectors
and other NRC employees. The text of the letter is below.

"As you are aware, the federal government shutdown has caused 'non-essential'
federal government workers to be furloughed, an action that has effects far
beyond the halls of the United States Capitol. For the Prairie Island Indian
Community (PIIC), the shutdown has caused frustration and uncertainty, as
we've discovered that the pending Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
inspections associated with the ongoing steam generator replacement project at
Xcel Energy's Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant (PINGP) – like the
furloughed inspectors and regulators – have been deemed 'non-essential' or, in
other words, 'unimportant.'

"These furloughs beg the question – how can even one inspector of our nation's
nuclear plants be deemed non-essential when our Community and many others rely
on these individuals for our safety and protection? PIIC is a federally
recognized Indian Nation, located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of
the Mississippi River, approximately 30 miles from the Twin Cities of
Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our Community is unique as our backyards and
businesses sit just 600 yards from the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant
and its more than 1.5 million pounds of nuclear waste storage. No other
community in the U.S. sits as close to a nuclear site and its waste storage.

"Washington's 'politics as usual' has also resulted in the suspension of the
NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board's license renewal proceedings for the
nuclear plant's onsite storage of spent fuel (Independent Spent Fuel Storage
Installation), postponed the NRC's regional public meetings on its Waste
Confidence Decision, and scaled down operations which could directly affect
the oversight of the safety and security of nuclear plants throughout the
country. As a cooperating agency with the NRC in connection with the
environmental review of the PINGP ISFSI license renewal application, and as
the neighbor to an operating nuclear power plant, the PIIC relies on the NRC's
information and oversight to ensure repairs, issues and security are
appropriately handled at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant – and
that communication is immediate and consistent. With federal inspectors being
furloughed, as well as other support personnel, how can the Tribe and our
neighbors be assured there will be no increased risk of improper repairs or
other potential unchecked safety issues?

"PIIC and all citizens who live near nuclear sites deserve uninterrupted
inspection, management and communication from the federal government. All
American citizens should be considered essential when it comes to our personal
health and safety. It only takes one mistake with highly radioactive and toxic
materials to result in catastrophic consequences to host communities –
consequences that would last for centuries.

"Beyond the very real but inconceivable notion that our government is not
adequately overseeing the maintenance and safety of our nation's nuclear
plants during the shutdown, we are concurrently frustrated with the federal
government's broken promise for a federal nuclear waste repository. On-site
nuclear storage was first approved on Prairie Island in 1994, with the
guarantee under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act that the federal government would
be required to develop a permanent repository within two decades. Since that
time, the number of so-called 'temporary' dry cask storage containers on
Prairie Island has grown from 17 to 35 without an end or solution in sight. If
Washington politicians continue to ignore the law of the land, up to 98 casks
filled with nearly 5 million pounds of nuclear waste will be stranded on
Prairie Island.

"This lack of leadership in Washington has become an untenable situation for
our Community, so much so that we have begun to look to purchase land
elsewhere for our Tribe. It would be a difficult decision to leave our
ancestral land; however, we believe it may be the only way to ensure the
safety and health of our Community members and the thousands of visitors to
our resort and casino.

"We urge each of you and all the Members of Congress to immediately end the
lock-out of federal nuclear inspectors – and all NRC employees – and to
reexamine the nuclear waste storage crisis that faces our country. The health
and safety of millions of Americans will be at risk if the government
continues its inaction."

About the Prairie Island Indian Community
The Prairie Island Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian Nation, is
located in southeastern Minnesota along the banks of the Mississippi River,
approximately 30 miles from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Twin
nuclear reactors and 35 large steel nuclear waste storage casks sit just 600
yards from Prairie Island tribal homes. A total of 98 casks could be stranded
on Prairie Island indefinitely unless the federal government fulfills its
promise to build a permanent storage facility. The only evacuation route off
the Prairie Island is frequently blocked by passing trains. The Tribe has been
pushing for the removal of the nuclear waste since 1994 when Xcel Energy was
first allowed to store the waste near its reservation. On the web:
www.prairieisland.org. 

Contact: Tonya Tennessen
         952-232-7184
         ttennessen@webershandwick.com

SOURCE Prairie Island Indian Community

Website: http://www.prairieisland.org
 
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