The Prairie Island Indian Community said Monday that it has appealed a new U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission nuclear storage rule on the grounds that federal officials didn’t conduct a thorough analysis of the long-term risks of storing spent fuel rods in casks at reactors.
The tribe, whose members live near Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear power plant in Red Wing, had joined with states and environmental groups to win a 2012 court decision forcing the NRC to review storage practices and update its rule. The new rule took effect last week.
The tribe, and the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont, which filed separate appeals on Monday, challenged the NRC’s review in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. The tribe’s petition by St. Paul attorney Joseph Halloran and tribe General Counsel Philip Mahowald asks the court to throw out the rule and order further study of the risks.
“The NRC has sidestepped its obligation to our tribe to do a full and complete analysis of the risks of permanent onsite storage of nuclear waste 600 yards from our nearest residences,” Tribal Council President Ronald Johnson said in a statement.
Xcel has been storing spent fuel in sealed casks at Prairie Island since 1994. The number of casks is expected to rise from the existing 36 to 98 at the end of the plant’s license in 2034, the tribe said.