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Minnesota lawmakers putting the state at risk of nuclear waste dumping

Make no mistake: Minnesota’s nuclear expansion moratorium is not about the future of nuclear power in this state.

The moratorium is unquestionably about nuclear waste and the understandable fear Minnesotans have about nuclear waste storage in their back yards.

Victoria Winfrey: Lawmakers seem happy to embrace nuclear waste. Minnesotans shouldn’t be. StarTribune.com, By VICTORIA WINFREY  January 25, 2011 In a strange display of priorities when facing an historic state budget deficit, the 2011 Legislature is fast-tracking a bill that would repeal the state’s moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants or new reactors at existing plants.

The Legislature appears almost giddy at the prospect of breaking Minnesota’s 16-year-old promise to citizens impacted by the growing menace of nuclear waste.

Make no mistake: Minnesota’s nuclear expansion moratorium is not about the future of nuclear power in this state.

The moratorium is unquestionably about nuclear waste and the understandable fear Minnesotans have about nuclear waste storage in their back yards.

The Prairie Island Community has been living in the shadow of the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant for nearly four decades.

We are among the closest communities in the nation to a nuclear power plant and an above-ground nuclear waste storage site.

The plant’s two reactors, 29 nuclear waste storage casks and 725 tons of nuclear waste sit just 600 yards from our homes — on a cement pad in the floodplain of the Mississippi River.

Consider that storage location in coming weeks as spring flooding projections are released.

Even without lifting the state’s moratorium, if the federal government relicenses the Prairie Island plant for an additional 20 years, as Xcel Energy has proposed, 69 new waste casks will be necessary, bringing the total casks at Prairie Island to 98.

That represents nearly 2,500 tons of nuclear waste that would be stored at Prairie Island for generations.

We live in constant fear that the next radioactive leak — there already have been two — just might be the one that devastates our community. We know that nuclear power is far from clean.

We have watched the Prairie Island plant age and hear the steady reports of security breaches, operating errors and failing equipment.

We know safety is a luxury our community will never enjoy as long as the power plant and nuclear waste are on Prairie Island……our community and others in Minnesota and across America have been left with this horrible realization about nuclear waste storage near our homes: Where nuclear waste is stored today is where it will be stored in the future; and where nuclear waste is generated in the future is where it will stay for generations.

Before Minnesota embraces nuclear power expansion, the Prairie Island Indian Community believes the state’s promise to host communities should be honored and the federal government should solve the nuclear waste storage issue once and for all.

Until that happens, Minnesota’s nuclear expansion moratorium serves a vital public safety purpose.

Victoria Winfrey: Lawmakers seem happy to embrace nuclear waste. Minnesotans shouldn’t be. | StarTribune.com

January 27, 2011 - Posted by | politics, USA

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