Last night was to have been the last meeting of the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant uprate and dry cask Citizen Advisory Task Force.  There was a meeting in Northfield and so I bowed out of the Task Force meeting, and drat, it seems that it was more exciting than the last few.

Alan’s Letter to the Editor was in the Beagle on Tuesday:

Letter: Nuclear power task force is asking key questions

The Republican Eagle – 10/21/2008

To the Editor:

I attended the Oct. 8 and 15 meetings of a _task force_ created by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to advise on “environmental review” of proposed actions at the Prairie Island nuclear plant.

Prairie Island Unit 1 started up in 1973; its license expires in 2013. Unit 2 started up in 1974; its license expires in 2014. Xcel wants to increase power output by 82 megawatts (15 percent) for each unit, and run them another 20 years.

Bill Storm of the Office of Energy Security runs the task force, which concerned citizens petitioned the PUC for. He admitted opposing it, but was allowed to chose the members. He said the public couldn’t comment at the meetings. He turned the main part of the first meeting over to Xcel. Most absurd, he said the task force wouldn’t produce a report. Rather, he would convey what he wished to the PUC.

This is not how a task force should operate, and the members shouldn’t go along with it.

Like nukes or not, we all likely agree that the future of the PI units is significant to Red Wing, the health of the Mississippi River, and our rapidly changing energy situation.

Xcel’s applications — available in the Red Wing library — fill over 10 inches of binders . They raise many questions needing better answers. Xcel admits that radiation releases would increase, heat dumped into the river would increase, and local nuclear waste storage would increase.

The nuclear industry says it has learned a lot since Prairie Island were started up. If Prairie Island is to expand, and run 20 years more than originally agree to, it should be improved — it should become cleaner and more environmentally protective, not less so. “Closed circuit” cooling must be used at all times to protect the river and the fish in it.

It is up to Xcel to show that the hundred of millions of ratepayers’ dollars to be invested in PI might not be better used in some other way — such as conservation and efficiency programs.

No public agency should try to blow off these concerns and exclude the public. The task force members should insist on adequate answers and listen to the public, no matter how long it takes. There is a lot at stake.

The task force will meet at 7 p.m. Wed. October in the Red Wing Public Library.

Alan Muller
Red Wing

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