"The Prairie Island nuclear power plant at Red Wing may be allowed to operate for another 20 years.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected claims that Xcel Energy's safety record is poor enough that the life of the plant should not be extended.
Xcel Energy has already jumped through a lot of hoops to obtain a license extension for the 40-year-old nuclear plant, along the Mississippi River near Red Wing.
The last remaining major obstacle was an argument by the Prairie Island Indian Community that Xcel Energy's record of mostly-minor violations indicates it may not be able to manage the aging plant safety.
Phil Mahowald, the tribe's attorney, said Xcel has scrambled recently to fix long-standing problems.
"We identified examples of deficiencies that had either been existing since the plant first started operating," Mahowald said.
He said problems identified as long as 25 years ago, or five years ago "were just now being addressed in these last couple of years."
Neighbors also would like the company to address additional radioactive waste that will have to be stored on-site.
"The federal government is breaking its promise to remove the spent nuclear fuel from Prairie Island," Mahowald said. "That's an ongoing problem but unfortunately in the narrow scope of license renewal you can't even consider the issues and concerns regarding spent fuel." "
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Prairie Island clears hurdle toward 20-year extension
(Minnesota Public Radio 10/14)