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Red Wing officials disappointed in feds’ decision on spent nuclear fuel

Red Wing city officials and leaders of the Prairie Island Indian Community say they are unhappy with a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruling that does little to resolve the ongoing dispute over storage of spent nuclear fuel.

The Prairie Island nuclear power plant is on the Mississippi River in Red Wing, and is adjacent to the Indian reservation.

A story in the Rochester Post Bulletin says the NRC ruling:

“…opens the door for on-site nuclear waste storage for 100 years or more. The language also lifts a suspension on licensing additional nuclear facilities even without the creation of a national repository for nuclear waste.”

Not good, says Red Wing City Council member Peggy Rehder, who has lobbied in Washington, D.C., on the issue, and wasn’t surprised with the ruling

“There’s been a movement toward saying that spent fuel in dry cask storage is safer for a longer period of time,” she said. “It’s disappointing, but on the other hand, we’re seeing movement in Congress toward getting spent fuel that’s in storage in at a least an interim storage site.”

And Ron Johnson, president of the Prairie Island Indian Community’s Tribal Council, said in a statement:

“…the NRC affirmed a new rule and generic environmental impact statement that concluded that spent nuclear fuel — some of the most dangerous and toxic substances known to mankind — can be safely stored 600 yards from our homes indefinitely if no geologic repository is ever built. No other community sits as close to a nuclear site and its waste storage.”

According to the paper, Xcel Energy says it has “38 casks containing nuclear waste near Red Wing and is permitted to store waste in 64 casks when the current operating licenses end in 2033 and 2034.”

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