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Request to extend nuclear storage at Prairie Island gets more scrutiny

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A federal panel will take a closer look at Xcel Energy's request to store additional nuclear waste at its Prairie Island plant near Red Wing for the next 40 years.

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled concerns raised by tribal members living next to the plant warrant a hearing before a three-judge panel. The storage of casks containing radioactive waste was originally meant to be a temporary measure. But since federal plans for a nuclear waste repository have fallen through, the casks are looking more like permanent fixtures. Xcel's request would give the company permission to more than double the number of casks, raising the total from today's 29 to as many as 64.

Here is the order issued by the board.

Improvements to its nuclear reactors at Prairie Island and Monticello are key elements in Xcel Energy's pending request for an eleven percent rate increase. Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission OK'd a nine percent interim rate hike that takes effect in January. A final decision on rates is not likely until next fall.

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