WELCH, MINNESOTA – The Prairie Island Indian Community’s 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 lockout of Federal nuclear inspectors and other NRC employees.
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.