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Area sees minimal impact to shutdown

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Local impacts from Tuesday’s federal government shutdown appear to be minimal, with key safety and infrastructure agencies continuing as normal.

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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency, which provides oversight on Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear plant, has enough funds carried over from last year to operate for at least a week without changes, according to a statement by Mark Satorius, NRC executive director of operations.

Should the shutdown continue for longer, the NRC has an approved plan to keep key staff members working in case of a crisis, he said. Around 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees will stay on for emergency operations, half of which are resident inspectors assigned to reactors and fuel facilities.

Xcel Energy is in the midst of a major upgrade to Unit 2, replacing the two steam generators in addition to a portion of the uranium fuel.

Employees at U.S. Lock & Dam No. 3 also reported for work as usual Tuesday, operating under deferred-pay status, according to the lockmaster’s office.

Minnesota offices of the Farm Service Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, initiated shutdown procedures throughout the day, including closing the agency’s website.

Despite the shutdown, FSA staff is prepared to respond to natural disasters and food procurement as part of Emergency and Defense Preparedness, according to a USDA contingency plan.

Goodhue County Administrator Scott Arneson said the county is working to determine the exact impact of the government shutdown on local services, but no distinct changes have been found as yet.

Some grant payments to the county from federal agencies are expected to slow as the week progresses, he said.

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Michael Brun
Michael Brun is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program. He has worked for the Republican Eagle since March 2013, covering county government, health and local events. 
(651) 301-7875
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